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| 3 April 2014 | Reply


Label: Razor & Tie

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by: Mike Hubbard

One of the most watched drama’s in the alternative music world has been the churning line-ups and relationships in Davison, MI’s favorite sons, Chiodos.  If you are reading this review you probably know much about it.  The well-publicized reunion of the band with original vocalist Craig Owens has come full circle with the release of their latest album, Devil, on April 1, 2014.  Owens and original drummer Derrick Frost rejoined the band almost two years ago.  The relationships were repaired through multiple tours, leading to this new recording.  Also new to the band is former The Fall of Troy guitarist/vocalist Thomas Erak.  Many, including me, expected that the addition of Erak would lead to some intense, technical songs on the new album.  Upon listening to the disc, I can say we were half right.  Erak’s technical guitar wizardry is sadly absent for the most part, but there is a deep intensity throughout the 13 songs.  Only it is a different kind of intensity than I expected.  Prior to hearing the album I was anticipating ‘Bone Palace Ballet-2’, but what I heard was a whole different kind of Chiodos.  Once I was able to get over my pre-conceived notion of what I thought the album “should” be, I came to realize that what they have produced is something much better than I imagined.

‘Devil’ opens with ‘U.G. Introduction’, which starts with a dark piano arpeggio, then joined by strings, and foreshadows some of the darkness we are about to experience.  The intro leads into ‘We’re Talking About Practice’, which consists of all clean vocals with a poppy feel, almost like Owens’ work with D.R.U.G.S.  Next up is ‘Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now’, which immediately contrasts musically from ‘Practice’ with opening screams, but turns poppy/clean, then explodes again in the bridge, back to poppy/clean chorus, closing with screams of “This is love!”.  By now I am getting the idea that this release will display a wide range of musical styles.  ‘Why The Munsters Matter’ follows with a 6/8 time signature, giving some glimpses of the old Chiodos.  Next up is another significant change of pace with ‘3 AM’, showing a pop-punk side of the band that has not been previously explored.  ‘Sunny Days And Hand Grenades’ gives us another flash-back to what we’ve come to expect from Chiodos, featuring a swing verse with a straight 4/4 chorus and a spoken-word bridge.  Just as the listener is starting to feel comfortable they mix it up again with ‘Duct Tape’, an eerie stripped down tune with a string intro that is reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold.  The eighth track is one that they played on 2013’s Warped Tour, ‘Behvis Bullock’.  It is the hardest track on ‘Devil’ opening with a frantic scream, featuring hardcore elements such as panic chords and a breakdown, with Owens repeating ‘On my way the heaven I was dragged through hell’.  Just as you think the album is picking up, an acoustic guitar opening signals another change-up in style in ‘Looking For A Tornado’.  The first time I felt like I could discern new guitarist Erak’s influence is in ‘Expensive Conversations In Cheap Motels’.  The style turns decidedly poppy again in the up-tempo ‘I’m Awkward & Unusual’.  The 12th track, ‘Under Your Halo’ provides one of the biggest surprises.  It is a light, happy, sweet love song that even features an electronic opening.  I REALLY did not expect a song like this from Chiodos, particularly on an album titled ‘Devil’, but they surprisingly pull it off well.  The band had one more trick up their sleeve, the final track ‘I Am Everything That’s Normal’, clocking in at 8:46.   I can only imagine the energy and emotion that went into writing and recording this number.  It pulled the whole disc together, displaying all the inner struggles and turmoil Owens had.  The song peaks with Owens repeating ‘I swear I’m different now’.   The repeating words continue and morph with electronic noise and distortion, devolving into random static and blips, leading to an atonal piano accompaniment, finally resolving with piano arpeggios similar to the opening track but slower and darker.  It is a fitting end to the journey the band takes us on while listening to the album front to back.

This was not what I expected.  Frankly, as they started releasing previews of individual songs leading up to the release of the album I was disappointed.  It really required that I listen to the whole album through in a single sitting for me to fully appreciate what they have done.  The band (and Owens in particular) has shown significant maturity through all of their trials over the last few years.  ‘Devil’ is raw and emotional, although lacking some of the technical elements of their earlier works.  It also shows little evidence of the guitar work that Thomas Erak displayed with Fall of Troy.  If it has been difficult to categorize them into a specific genre in the past, ‘Devil’ will make that task impossible.  However, it does display a whole new trajectory for Chiodos, one that you will likely enjoy once you dispel any pre-conceived notions of what you think the album should be.

Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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