Review Summary: Back on the saddle
When vocalist Josh Scogin belts ‘This ain’t my first rodeo’ to begin this album, it’s hard not to imagine these words as a nod towards his former band Norma Jean and their debut album, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child
. It’s hard to separate this album and the former, as Scogin had left Norma Jean only a year prior to the release of this. In many regards, this is Scogin’s follow-up to Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child
, but also the debut album of a new band ready to establish itself as front-runners in the metalcore genre.
Absurd title aside, Everything is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead, and Nothing is Bleeding
pummels its listeners in just under 30 minutes of muddied, distorted riffs and feedback. As with Norma Jean’s Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child
, this album was recorded live and without overdubs, giving it a raw and unpolished feel. The album feels very much like a live performance. What the band plays is exactly what you are going to hear. There is nothing added in and as mentioned earlier, nothing used to create a polished effect. The album maintains its frantic and chaotic pace from start to finish, however, there are moments of variation and surprise. Whether it’s the banjo intro of “Die Interviewer (I Am Only Speaking in German),” the haunting use of strings towards the end of “And Then, Came Then,” or the use of some Spanish lyrics in “Yellow Dress: Locked Knees,” these moments help maintain the listener’s interest. They help break up some of the monotony the album just can’t help but sometimes suffer from.
At the forefront of this album, as with every The Chariot album, is Scogin’s vocal performance. On this album in particular, Scogin sounds like a man possessed screaming out everything he can, all the while, the apocalypse is destroying everything around him. Scogin employs various screams, shrieks, and growls throughout. The most surprising vocal moment comes at the start of “And Then, Came Then,” when Scogin employs a deep guttural growl that is never explored more at any point after. While certainly impressive, the growl sounds forced, and because of this, there is no loss in not hearing it again. Scogin is at his best when he just lets loose, employing more effectively the other screams used throughout.
With Scogin’s vocals, one must also consider his lyrics. With this album, more so than later The Chariot releases, Scogin’s lyrics do not shy away from his beliefs and faith. In “And Then, Came Then,” there are lyrics such as ‘Repent: Kingdom’ and ‘The Devil is in Atlanta. Army: Surrounded.” A portion of the Spanish lyrics in “Yellow Dress: Locked Knees” roughly translate to, ‘Jesus, I want this world to know you.” In “Goodnight My Lady, and a Forever Farewell” there is, ‘If we don’t meet this side of Heaven, make sure you’re right.” Given the apocalyptic nature of this album, both in sound and through various lyrics, it makes sense that many of the more direct and less ambiguous lyrics are a profession of faith.
Everything is Alive, Everything is Breathing, Nothing is Dead, and Nothing is Bleeding
sees The Chariot coming out strong right from the gate. While it may not be fair to compare or think about this album without thinking first about Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child
, it’s hard not to. However, the album stands on its own just fine with its distorted and chaotic riffs, unpolished production, raw atmosphere, and one of Scogin’s best vocal performances. While The Chariot continued to evolve with each subsequent release, ultimately reaching their top form with Long Live
and One Wing
, their debut remains an impressive statement and new beginning for Scogin, but above all else, an excellent album.