Review Summary: Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Chariot.
There is an underlying sense of sadism when it comes to extreme music fans. Always looking for the heaviest, most volatile music they can find to push their synapses to breaking point, whether it is 1000bpm blasting death metal or the sickest machine gun grindcore. There’s always someone seeking to satiate their musical palette with noisier and more punishing sounds. The Chariot may even appeal to these sadistic degenerates; they are a band who exists at the more extreme-end of the hardcore spectrum. They may even arouse the interest of Whitehouse fans, the sort who stand in the front row of their gigs trying to endure the bowel-vacating white-noise, as their eyeballs vibrate and bleed profusely.
The Chariot has made a career out of demolishing the listener with a chaotic riff, only for it to be washed over by the mangled noise emanating from their amps. This kinetic use of feedback undercutting Josh Scogin’s (the man in the driving seat of the Chariot) frenzied vocal battery is the perfect recipe for extreme tinnitus that WILL last for days on end. Your ears will ring like a telemarketer on a Sunday; there is no avoiding it! The Chariot’s modus operandi is to perforate eardrums with sharp bursts of brutality. Hell (or Heaven in the Chariot’s case), their albums should come with this warning sticker; “If you are frail of mind and strained for sanity, please listen with caution – preferably in a padded room with no access to sharp objects”.
Besides singer Josh Scogin, the only other constant in the Chariot is long-time band producer Matt Goldman. Goldman’s most valuable contribution is his understanding of the Chariot’s sound (which has remained unwavering even through the turbulence of losing so many band members). He leaves the mix corrosive, which is exactly how the Chariot comes across in a live environment.
“Long Live” is the band’s fourth full-length and it captures them at their viciously abrupt best. It’s the Chariot without any fat – just a reined-in, leaner version of its angular self. Check out the first three tracks as they rocket past the space of six minutes combined. Thus is the splendour of the Chariot; they hit you repeatedly and beat you into submission in quick succession.
The Chariot have adopted inventive promotional tactics in the run up to “Long Live”, offering fans the chance of having a song named in their honour; should they buy copies of previous album “War and Rumours of War” signed by each member of the band. Donald Trump would be licking his greasy lips in satisfaction of such a clever business plan. You see, this is what bands have to do to make a crust in the disposable digital-age (where albums are downloaded quicker than Usain Bolt on the back of a cheetah!).
It is an interesting idea though. How awesome does Robert Rios feel right now!? Imagine having the Chariot’s best song named after you – it’s enough to cause the “scenesters’” panties to drop! This track encompasses the Chariot’s entire career in one song – drums smash the teeth out of your head, and as you reach to pick them off the floor - the riffs and booming bottom-end drop you on your knees. But what makes this track blaze is Josh Scogin’s performance, evident as you kneel with your toothless mouth agape in awe. The screamed vocals are without melody yet delivered with the captivating tonality that all the “greats” possess.
Listen from 48 seconds to 1.02 minutes – to hear a collage of the “greats” channelled through Scogin; who mimics Chino Moreno, Keith Buckley and Greg Puciato in the space of 14 seconds, coming across more maniacal than all three singers in their separate capacity.
The dirge-filled section ending the track, with its polluted bass line and Scogin red necked screams of - “She was born on the 4th of July!” is enough to excite the most jaded hardcore fans. Bravo Mr Rios, you have lucked out!
David de la Hoz hasn’t done badly either with the chaotic curve-ball of a track named in his honour. Major surprise comes from guest Dan Smith of Listener with his spoken word piece or “Talk Music” as he calls it. Whatever way you describe it, it sounds like the idiot savant who babbles on the street corner, while having a full-blown row with the voices in his head – it sounds deranged; but is apt considering the musical apocalypse which underscores it.
[Insert Sarcasm] - Can’t believe I’ve almost made it through this review without referring to Josh Shogin’s former band by name! Yet Norma Jean’s old sound looms large over the album as heard on “The Audience” and curtain caller “The King” – the latter with its marching brass band influence setting it apart.
This album is the perfect soundtrack to a death-bed confessional (“The City”) and where the Chariot rolls on from here is anyone’s guess, but whatever route they take - you know that curve-balls and tinnitus await the watchful.
All Hail The Chariot…”Long Live” The Chariot. Amen.