Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Written by: AP on 24/10/2012 15:35:55
By now it should be a certainty that one day, The Chariot will be looked back on as legends; daredevils who did what they pleased with their music and became known as one of the most, if not the most ferocious live band on the planet. There is no question whatsoever that The Chariot are an acquired taste given their taste for chaos, extremity and all things authentic. It has become their trademark to include every screech and scratch and breath that was recorded in the final mix so as to cement themselves as a live band rather than a recording band. As such, one usually knows what to expect from them in terms of music: it's not stuff that will win you much affection from the people around you, nor can it even always be described as music. But it works in the live setting, as anyone who has seen them can doubtlessly attest to. However, on this fifth album, "One Wing", it seems that The Chariot are intent on proving they can write songs that work in your headphones too if they want to, and the results are nothing short of stunning.
With the exception of the fifth, seventh and ninth songs, "Love", "In" & "And", there is very little of the live geared chaos that dominates other Chariot albums on display here. Overall the approach is more focused on providing a challenging yet coherent listening experience as well as fodder for the band's notoriously mental live performances. Don't get me wrong, the music packed into this thing is still about as offensive on the ears as it gets, yet beneath its abrasive surface brews a level of ambition not yet seen from this band. Rather than just writing songs in the vein of "Evan Perks" and "Teach" from the previous two efforts that can be rendered accurately whilst dangling from the rafters of some tiny venue, The Chariot have effectively decided finally to write an album - and a daring one at that. Songs like the opening duo "Forget" and "Not", as well as "Tongues", actually conform to a rather traditional structure; they're extremely heavy, yet instantly recognizable and lasting in their value. The first is of the nature you might have expected Norma Jean to write in their early days; the second a grandiose worship of noise, and a massive tune at that; the third a groovy, slow burning, heavily trudging sludge metal song.
Still, those songs are only part of the reason "One Wing" is such a thrilling listen. Whether most of it sounds like a grater on your eardrums or not, there is no denying that the ideas The Chariot are working with on it establish them as one of the most unique forces in music today. I mean, putting on solist Angela Plake to perform a short angelic country hymn with the refrain "Oh busy, busy bee / Walking to and fro' / What if we close our eyes? / What if we don't wake up?" ("Your"); concluding a song with a two-minute Ennio Morricone style outro - the best I've ever heard employed in metal - complete with echoing Western guitar, whips and trumpets whilst Josh Scogin screams his lungs out on top of it ("First"); using an acoustic piano as the sole instruments next to your venomous vocals ("Speak"); and ending the album with rumbling ambiance and Charlie Chaplin's politically charged speech from The Dictator ("Cheek.") would usually constitute pushing your luck. But somehow The Chariot manage to make those inclusions sound not just organic, but necessary for telling the mini-story that the song titles construct: "Forget not your first love. Speak in tongues and cheek.", which also embodies the message of the album.
As always, The Chariot have not forgotten their loyal fans, either. Keen listeners will no doubt quickly notice the reference to 2007's "The Fiancée" in "Your", which is essentially the song "They Faced Each Other" reimagined as a kind of twisted ballad, and the spaghetti Western quirks in "First" must surely be a nod to that album's own mini-story as well - recall it went "Back to back, they faced each other; they drew their swords, and shot each other. The deaf policeman heard this noise, then came to kill the two dead boys.", in reference to the well documented practice of duels used by Cowboys. In traditional manner also, the songs have been recorded as live takes and not much has been shaved off with production tricks, with the result that once Scogin finally enters the song in "Cheek." to make his own screaming remarks after Chaplin, you can hear every inhale and exhale as he climbs to his most consummate emotional high yet, fuming with passion.
You expect The Chariot to pile on the noise, not take your breath away, yet with "One Wing" they achieve exactly that. The album is equal parts raw, deranged, beautiful and grand; an album you not only hear, but also feel blasting out of your speakers. Although both "Long Live" and "Wars and Rumors of Wars" were both fantastic albums as well, here, it seems, The Chariot have at last managed to return to the grandeur of "The Fiancée", and possibly even to surpass it. Now all that remains to be seen is how this more ambitious style of song fares in the live setting. My guess is most of these will be the rare breathing breaks you are allowed at their concerts.
Download: Forget, Not, First, Tongues, And, Cheek.
For the fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan at their most aggressive, the most frantic songs by Every Time I Die, old Norma Jean
Release date 28.08.2012
eOne Music / Good Fight Entertainment