December 7, 2010


The Chariot - Long Live

by Chase Macabre (STL)

The late 90s.

The glory days of the genre I love the most: metalcore. Deadguy's Fixation on a Coworker, Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops, Botch's We Are The Romans, Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity and the list goes on and on. Late '90s metalcore was eviscerating music, but shortly after the turn of the century, something much prettier reared its ugly head. Norma Jean and the billions of copycat bands that followed them.

Fast forward to the present and "metalcore" is now a dirtier word than even "emo," thanks to the bands that spend more time focusing on their image than the songs they write. What happened to the muscular, experimental and downright freaky metalcore I knew and loved? Sadly, the old guard has mostly died off or changed styles. Save for Coalesce's Ox and Burnt By The Sun's swan song Heart of Darkness, few "good" metalcore records have come out lately. And what of the inheritors? Well, Norma Jean are almost an arena rock band now, but the vocalist of Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child Josh Scogin's the Chariot still resemble those chaotic early days.

The Chariot's latest offering, Long Live, is a treatise of starting and stopping. The record examines the interplay of blast-beats, break-beats, break-downs and walls of squealing feedback as a base for the fire and brimstone Scogin spews over top. In result, Long Live sounds like it was recorded in a building they were simultaneously burning down. But that sound isn't nearly as surprising as it once was in Scogin's old band. This "everything is falling apart" sound is a Chariot trademark but now I don't believe they're capable of holding a song together long enough for it to build anything worth falling from.

However, a few songs on Long Live begin to lay a foundation. "Robert Rios" begins with full chords strummed in eighth notes with a maniacal Scogin over the top that is the closest to a straight punk song they've written. But others, like "Calvin Makenzie" and "David De La Hoz," are as ADD as ever, seemingly cutting and pasting different parts together that are neither melodically compelling nor all that heavy. When the Chariot are compelling though, they're capable of devastating beauty, like the cinematic final chord progression and vocal performance on "The City," the sweet horn part and riff on the closer "The King" or the absolutely crushing breakdown in "Andy Sundwall" (that seems like the way "The Company, The Comfort, The Grave" always should've been.)

Despite putting up the semblance of a framing, the Chariot do not build much to burn. The beginning of the record contains the lyric "disappointed, I know you are" and I'm not so much disappointed in you, the Chariot, as I am the massive void your forefathers left you to fill.

This also begs the question: who out there is filling the void right? Are there any current bands with that New Jersey sound that are good?


12/02 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Loft
12/03 Garden City, NY @ Ethical Center
12/04 Vineland, NJ @ Hangar 84
12/05 West Chester, PA @ The Note
12/06 Virginia Beach, VA@ Club Relevant
12/07 Raleigh, NC @ The Brewery
12/08 Corbin, KY @ Technology Center
12/09 East Ridge, TN @ The Warehouse
12/10 Prattville, AL @ The Blue Iguana
12/11 Douglasville, GA @ The 7 Venue

1/7/2011 Clifton Park, NY @ Northern Lights
1/8/2011 Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
1/11/2011 Toledo, OH @ Headliners
1/12/2011 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre
1/13/2011 Palatine, IL @ Durty Nellie's
1/14/2011 Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose Tap House
1/15/2011 Springfield, MO @ Remmingtons Downtown
1/16/2011 Tulsa, OK @ The Marquee Theatre
1/18/2011 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
1/19/2011 Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
1/20/2011 Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Cafe - Vegas Strip
1/21/2011 Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
1/22/2011 Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
1/23/2011 Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory
1/25/2011 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black sheep
1/26/2011 Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club
1/27/2011 St. Louis, MO @ Pops Nite Club
1/28/2011 Lansing, MI @ The Loft (at Harem Lounge)
1/29/2011 Buffalo, NY @ Xtreme Wheels


Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the afformentioned albums at the beginning, also I think The Chariot is horrorably underrated. However, it could be just the bands that they are touring with, that are the ones briging them down.

Anonymous said...

^Seriously? What's your issue with Cancer Bats?

And Norma Jean is arena rock? HAVE YOU HEARD ARENA ROCK? You are out of touch.

These Seans said...

Cancer Bats are okay, can't say I love 'em, definitely don't hate them.

However, if thinking Norma Jean are bordering on modern day arena rock, then consider us happily out of touch.

In terms of who I think is quality metalcore these days, one band immediately jumps to the front of my mind. GAZA. people seem to skirt around calling them metalcore, instead they are some combination of grind and sludge and hardcore... they're metalcore. And REALLY good metalcore.

Anonymous said...

I think saying Norma Jean as "practically arena rock" is a metaphor for how soft they've become, not them actually sharing the stage with U2. Norma Jean's "Bless the Martyr" is fan-fucking-tastic.

These Seans said...

I liked their first two records a lot when they came out. I'm less interested now because of change in my own tastes and also their change in direction.

We're not saying we can't see the difference between U2 and Norma Jean, we're saying that for "the kids" these days, Norma Jean is more or less a "rock" band that one would go see in an "arena" therefore....

These Seans said...

also: GAZA


Chase Macabre said...

@Anonymous: 1. Why not log in with a name? 2. Yes, it was a metaphor.

@These Seans: INDEED! I've been spinning "He Is Never Coming Back" lately and it's pretty good. Here are a few other bands I've heard over the past few years that I define as metalcore (or mostly metalcore/in the same vein of the bands I like):
- Trap Them (OBVIOUSLY!)
- Fuck the Facts
- Engineer
- Knut

I've heard several others that have left me underwhelmed, Cancer Bats included. To my ears, they sound like a lot of the Ferret bands I've heard before.