Review Summary: Repetition, I'd like you to meet Josh Scogin.
The Chariot have an interesting history -- lead singer, Josh Scogin, of the formerly almost-tolerable metalcore band Norma Jean
left the band for undisclosed reasons in 2002, only to jump right back into the scene a short two years later with Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding
, an atrociously titled Solid State debut from his newly formed band The Chariot.
Truth be told, the appeal of the band isn't particularly intriguing; Scogin wasn't a captivating vocalist to begin with and The Chariot did very little to differentiate themselves from their labelmates and most importantly, Norma Jean. After two alarmingly mediocre records, including the incredibly poorly received sophomore record, The Fiancee
, The Chariot bubbles up again to prove themselves a formidable rival to the metalcore scene -- or at least, they give a solid effort.
Wars and Rumors of Wars
is a record as rough-around-the-edges as they come. Guitar notes are dirty, drumming is sloppy, strings are half strummed, notes are half sounded and dissonant minor riffs are eagerly exhibited throughout the pummeling thirty minutes of the record. At times, the cacophony can be interpreted as raw, aggressive artistic integrity, but too many times it just sounds like a garageband still honing their chops. The song layout and construction mimics the unshaven sound of the record -- random forgettable riffs strung together with awkward time changes and jaunty sound loop interludes ultimately make up for a curious listening experience. The variance of ideas throughout the record is enormously absent, and monotony becomes integral to Wars and Rumors of Wars's charm, evident by the first explosive notes of the opener Teach.
That's not to say that they don't do some things well. The entirety of Wars
is brutally raw and so extremely unpolished that it ends up working for the band in most cases (one cannot help but imagine that they put on a brilliant live show). Luckily enough, unconventional musical ideas do occasionally appear on Wars
too. For example, the droning and churning of the expansive six minute Mrs. Montgomery Alabama III
(it wouldn't be a metalcore record without at least one dumb song title) is curiously intriguing, and the rare moment of restraint that the band showcases is comforting. Or, sample the sour clean-toned guitar that dominates the track Abandon
, discordantly accentuating Scogin's mostly impassioned vocals ("Is this a blessing or a curse"") before exploding into a brief climax that is over long before the song becomes too self indulgent, or before the lyrics become too campy.
On that note, the majority of the songs are around or beneath the 3 minute mark (which makes for a very brief ten-track experience), so before The Chariot find themselves dragging their poor songwriting skills out too long, the notes stop and the songs end (albeit often very abruptly). This is also widely disappointing, for it also means that whenever The Chariot latch on to an engaging musical idea, it is discarded before the listener has an opportunity to embrace it. For example, Teach
starts brilliantly, exploding with pounding drums and spiraling guitars until around the one minute mark, when the band abruptly switches timing and lays to waste any consistency they had going for them.
Many bands can get away with mashing random musical ideas into an indecipherable glob of 'musical prowess,' but ultimately, The Chariot do not have technical ability or the emotion to pull off such a daunting task. Wars and Rumors of Wars
is a relentless brain-beating of a record, but it offers little more than screeching feedback and dissonant loopy riffs..Of course, if relentlessly calloused and scabrous hardcore tunes (imagine if Norma Jean has a vague sense of direction) are your cup of tea, then I will welcome you to drink away. Unfortunately, I strongly urge everybody else
(coffee drinkers, wine-o's) just to steer clear.