Released on 22nd February 2013 via Good Fight Music
An album review by Daniel McDonald
Sponsored by Metal-Bro Alliance Australia
The Chariot hail from Douglasville, Georgia and have been dubbed a mathcore band. I would find it hard to pigeon hole them into a specific genre, though. Their sound is very abrasive and chaotic, but with clear undertones of structure and catchy melodies if you’re attuned to such things. If anything, I would personally class them as more a form of art metal. Their last album, Long Live and their current album, One Wing, have provided two of the most unique and enjoyable listening experiences in recent memory. Founded by ex-Norma Jean vocalist in 2004, The Chariot released three albums via Solid State Records. After the release of Wars and Rumours of Wars, The Chariot switched to Good Fight Music. One Wing is The Chariot’s fifth studio album. The Chariot are known for their explosive live shows and for recording studio albums as a live performance rather than one thing at a time. Their albums are rife with feedback and little idiosyncratic nuances normally absent from the standard produced album. Lyrically, The Chariot have been known to explore Christian themes as well as drawing upon personal experiences and views both political and social. Their lyrics are oftentimes cryptic, but meanings can usually be found once one decides to pause and look into it.
Josh Scogin – Vocals
Brandon Henderson – Lead guitar, bass
Stephen Harrison – Rhythm guitar, bass
David Kennedy – Drums, percussion
Artwork by Trey Moseley
My first real experience with The Chariot was listening to their 2010 album, Long Live. This was only last year. I heard a track from Long Live called ‘David De La Hoz’ which featured a self-proclaimed talk-music artist (not rap or hip-hop) known as Listener. I immediately loved the song. It had such a frenzied energy and it was so catchy. There were great elements to the song that just worked. I then invested in the full album and was impressed. But I’m not here to review Long Live, so let me move on. Suffice to say it’s worth checking out the album and the song. You should especially check out the video for ‘David De La Hoz’ on YouTube. It’s magnificent.
One Wing was released in the US around September 2012, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t available in Australia until February 2013. Needless to say, as soon as it was up for grabs, this Metal-Bro seized the opportunity to immerse himself in the weird and wonderful world of The Chariot’s One Wing. As with Long Live, One Wing is a very unique listening experience. Those you who have been following Metal-Bro Alliance Australia on Facebook would have already been exposed to some of what One Wing has to offer, as it has been the feature album all week, ending with this review.
Other than the vibrant and colourful album art, the track list immediately grabs your attention. Scogin explains this in an interview with Loudwire. The first sentence; “Forget not your first love.” In terms of the band, Scogin explains that this tells of the love he has had of being in a band and of metal since he was young and the statement helps them stay enthusiastic about what they do. The second sentence; “Speak in tongues and cheek.” This again is a statement of the band’s values. Scogin explained that they are not afraid to ask the big questions and look into important matters, whilst never losing the ability to have fun or laugh at yourself. I’m sure many fans take these sentences and apply them to their own values and situations too.
On with the review! Musically, One Wing opens with an anvil-to-the-face style. You’re welcomed with a wicked riff that is immediately accompanied with Scogin’s definitive screams. ‘Welcome to our world,’ it seems to be saying. ‘We are the Chariot and we are what we are.’ I’m hooked already. Critics have dubbed this as The Chariot’s “weird” album, but I beg to differ. One Wing’s sound is very consistent with Long Live, and somehow still retains its individuality thanks to The Chariot’s willingness to experiment and try new sounds. Scogin has commented that what they release is a fraction of what they try.
The opening track, “Forget” is a solid beginning, being a more straight-up aggressive metal-song. Or at least as close you’ll get to a straight-up aggressive metal-song from The Chariot. Following this, you have “Not”, which is again a close to conventional metal song and contains a rare clean vocals moment from Scogin to good effect.
After running in the clouds from the tenacity of the first two songs, you’re dropped in the ocean to cool off with a very different track, “Your”. This is real simple tune with lovely female singing and basic piano melody.
Then, you’ll arrive at a favourite of mine, “First”. Along with the last track, “First” stands out because not only is it a powerful metal song, but it evolves into a great Bonanza/spaghetti-western style shindig complete with trumpets and a Rawhide style whip-crack that keeps your toes tapping. You’re almost sad when the song ends. Almost.
Let’s now skip ahead to another stand out track, “Speak”. This track once again lacks the distorted guitars and relies once again on a basic piano melody with Scogin’s screams. This track comes across as an intense plea from Scogin as he seems to be belting out every ounce of himself in his screams, “Beg for forgiveness. Right now!” hits home all the more because the simple nature of the song.
As I’m running out of word space, I’ll skip ahead to the last track “Cheek.” which is another personal favourite. This track starts with Scogin’s screams and signature Chariot build up with lines like, “I’ve found the answer. Open your hands” which then leads into Charlie Chaplin’s moving and somehow 21st century relevant speech from the 1940 flick, The Great Dictator. With The Chariot’s music building in the background, they turn a strong speech into a gut-punch of a reality check.
I’ve immersed myself in One Wing over an over again for the last week and a bit, so I feel rather close to the material and find it hard to pick any criticisms from the album. This is especially since I seem to be unable to compare The Chariot to anything else in my playlist. The album has a veracious organic intensity that begs you to pay attention.
If I had one or two criticisms, I would say that the stand out tracks towards the latter half of the album appear to be ones that contain samples or lacking any of the abrasive sound. The full metal songs are great, but when faced with the originally of tracks like “Speak” and “Cheek.”, they fall to the background. I also thought the album was a tad short, but having said that, it runs for the same time as most metal albums and The Chariot get all they need done in the time span.
My last pick is more of a personal preference, but as a Christian listening to a Christian metal band, I found myself wishing their lyrics were more direct and challenging for their Christian fans. This does not detract from my enjoyment of the album, though.
4.5 stars out of 5
One Wing provides a very unique and enjoyable listening experience that should have me returning over and again. The album snubs the commercial conventions and by ignoring this, they just make themselves more significant in what some would say is a dying music scene. The energy and passion put forth here should put those rumours to rest. Scogin’s vision is something that many other bands should be using as a bench mark if they wish to be bold and stand-out amongst the metal scene.
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