Review Summary: The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is surprising to say the least. I knew these guys had raw talent, and loads of potential, but never did I imagine them writing something as wonderfully composed as this. It is music at it's finest.
Considering the incredible difference and growth in maturity and musicianship, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is nothing short of remarkable. With their two previous albums, Brand New showed us they could compose Pop/Punk/Emo to the fullest, but with this album they show us not only music, but art. Before, Lacey conveyed a sense of self-indulgence, narcissism and a superiority complex; but now, he reveals his true self: a heart-broken young man that produces artful music wrought from the depths of his aching soul. The album, in its entirety, seems to be about life and death, from the subtle imagery of the opening track, Sowing Season, stating, "Before you put my body in the cold ground take some time to warm it with your hands", to the somewhat obvious in Jesus: "Jesus Christ, I'm not scared to die, I'm a little bit scared of what comes after." Throughout the album, Lacey's frail voice haunts the listener, and in my sleep, during dreams I can't recall after waking, the melodies echo through my mind. People often rate albums based on what was released prior, not giving the new sound a deserved chance. I read too many reviews cutting this album short because it's not traditional, like Taking Back Sunday's repeated efforts. To me, a real artist's music evolves with the artist. Deja Entendu and Your Favorite Weapon were good, well written albums, but each following release shouldn't be judged based on one of them. Track by track, Jesse Lacey proves himself a mature songwriter, no longer writing about ex-girlfriends and breakups, but things that really matter. He no longer feels eighteen forever, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
The album opener, Sowing Season, is indeed a master work of lyricism and musicianship. From the haunting first verse, which gives way to the most frightening chorus ever to creep up on you, to the outro that that closes it out, I was in a daze of mysticism. For one, the drums drive the song forward in ways I've never heard before, like some sort of apocalyptic battle drum that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire track (if you're sitting down). The final verse stays in your head. Don't even think about it leaving. The second track, Millstone, continues to be original, with yet another awe-inspiring vocal. Jesus Christ, the third track, and the most successful single Brand New had had, is written directly to Jesus. Lacey wants to know what it's like to die, and asks Jesus if they could work out a psalm so he knows death is coming and won't even try to fight it. It's memorable, haunting. Limousine, the fifth track, is written about a young girl who died at the age of seven. The first minute of it is the most beautiful melody I've yet to hear, followed by an astonishing bridge that claims Jesus died for us one time, but never again. I guess Lacey fears for Man, and the evils that can control us. Evil is as evil does, but with Lacey all of Man will suffer the consequences, or so the song portrays. It's an epic soundscape that's brand new for Brand New, and it's pulled off amazingly well, reaching over seven minutes in length. Not The Sun and The Archers Bows Have Broken are the fastest paced tracks of the album, the latter being most similar, albeit exceptionally better realized, that their previous releases. Not The Sun is catchy and infectious and disturbed at the same time, whereas The Archers Bows Have Broken catches a glimpse of what the album would have sounded like if depression weren't a factor in the writing process of the album. Now don't misconstrue my continually stating the album being written during a depression as a necessarily depressing thing. The emotion of Lacey is exceptionally entertaining, and while it's not a "fun" listen, it is a masterpiece. It is art. It is raw emotion put into sound. My father died some time ago, and I've always thought the album good, but with his passing I've come to realize that these words and melodies and music have depth and meaning. No, it's not fun, it isn't written in spite of a stupid teenage girl, it isn't recorded merely to make the listener move. This album means something. And meaning it has.
I tried to keep the review relatively short so as just to draw any readers that haven't already listened in and keep them interested and intrigued. The first-person thing is debatable, considering that any review is just one person's opinion of that particular album. I do respect everyone's opinion and criticism/help though, except for Zeek's unneeded attention, but I guess some people just get on here to get on people's nerves. Sadly, I have a life and won't commit myself to such a thing. Sorry Zeek. I'm not gay by the way, either, Zeek. If I were gay, I doubt I'd be into your type anyways. I did miss Degausser, and my favorite track Luca, written about the Godfather character. The two strongest tracks should be a surprise to anyone who hasn't listened yet. Those were my intentions anyway. Thanks to everyone! I'm just giving you a hard time Zeek.