These reviews and writings originally appeared on my long time music blog, “Sell Out records”. I have edited them slightly, combined them, and appropriated them for the release on this blog. They are still relevant today, I still listen to the music, and therefore I’m consolidating my work to one place, so enjoy this blast from the past, and present, and please support the blog via the links provided, or send me some love via email, social media, or whatever else you plan on doing. Thanks from Jay.
The Chariot “The Fiancée”
Stop, go, stop, go, stop, bring in the roars, and then break down everything with a frenetic chaotic scream. That’s what you get when you put on The Chariot’s 2007 disc “The Fiancée”, and it’s one of the best metalcore records to come out of the Solid-State Records camp in a long time. Not that it’s new, but for you that didn’t follow Josh Scogin’s departure from Norma Jean, you will find this to be one of the most epic records to come out of the past 9 years. This is the second full length from the band, and everything about it was artistic.
The band received a Dove Award for best artwork the following year because of the intricate packaging that melted steampunk with modern design, and paper that was intriguing. Aside from that, the band purposely named their tracks in a poetic fashion, creating even more art to complement the frenetic chaos that is the record.
Overall, The Chariot’s sophomore album is one of the hardest hitting metalcore albums I’ve ever heard. It features 30 minutes of music, and each track blends into another. The palm muted, dropped tuned guitar work has a duality to it, but it’s Scogin’s roar and the amazing drum work that makes this one of my favorites. The Chariot’s drummers have always been stand outs, with incredible timing and precision to make the wall of guitar noises fit into the frenzied vocal styling that made Scogin a household name in the hardcore scene.
If you haven’t picked up The Chariot’s sophomore record, then I encourage you to do so. It’s one of their finest releases. It has so much weight to it, and while it’s not artistically the same kind of push that “Wars and Rumors of Wars” had in the physical release department, it is not a sour spot for the band. I love it.
In 2007, I was in a different place in my life. I didn’t pick up The Chariot’s release back then. I was living in Seattle, WA, married and unhappy. I was fighting off my depression in any way I could and was not getting much support. A lot of my happiness that was in music faded, and I didn’t listen to as many releases as I wanted to. Instead, I was listening to podcasts, talk radio, and reading a lot of books that seemed to point towards communism. It was a low point, but I fought on because that’s what you’re told to do by the church or cult of Mars Hill, that I was involved with at the time.
Now in 2014, I’m sitting at home and listening to all my old records, and this one is a triumph of hardcore and metal fusion in a lot of ways. The Chariot’s “Fiancée” unleashes one of the best hardcore records I have ever listened to in my life. Taking what chaotic elements Training For Utopia, Dillinger Escape Plan, and even Refused had, and turning them into a blender of noise and insanity is what you get with this Chariot release.
The lyrics are impressive, pointing towards an incredibly perplex onslaught of emotional connections, disconnections and sonic rhythms that are screamed and sung in unison over guitar and drums that are nothing short of a Basquiat painting. From the opening track of “Back To Back” through “They Faced Each Other”, and all the way to the “The Trumpet” you get a sense for the holy noise that is brought forth from this band that was fronted by the former singer of Norma Jean.
Fans of chaotic hardcore, and even post hardcore will be glad to go back and listen to this one because it’s ever so relevant. From the breaking points, to the drums that don’t stop firing off, and the guitar work that may not be “mathematically” sound, you get a wall of noise that floods your headphones and speakers with enough chaos to set you free from any stress you may have. For me, this is home, this is a warm blanket and a friendship I don’t have in real life. An escape from the intangibles of life, and it’s all thanks to the music presented on this 2007 release. 7 years old, and it feels new.
The Chariot “Wars and Rumors of Wars”
“Wars and Rumors of Wars” was released on May 5, 2009, this was one of the records that I remember absolutely falling in love with while I was living in Seattle, Washington. I had moved to Seattle in March of 2007 and was still building an insane collection of music at the time. This came out on Cinco de Mayo and if you remember the initial set up, there was a hand numbered and autographed set of discs put out with paper CD cases. I was able to pick up number 257 of the releases, and sure enough they were hand signed and numbered in pen. The Chariot did the classic “one up” thing with this release, as they put out “The Fiancée” in 2007 to good overall reviews.
You don’t need to know what was going on at the time to appreciate the heavy-handed measurements of each song on this record. The Chariot goes balls to the wall, as it were, with stop, go, stop, go style metallic hardcore. There are some outstanding riffs found on this record, but it’s the palm muted, distortion fueled chaos that makes this record so compelling. The guitar work from Dan Vokey and Brian Russell Taylor stand out, even when you can’t tell where the bass guitar is in the mud of the guitars that pummel your senses on each track. If the guitar and vocal wall of noise doesn’t compel you, pay close attention to the drumming that David Kennedy creates here. There’s chaos, and there’s unity with the sounds, driving the songs like a pendulum from jazz era technique to stand alone hard rock drumming.
The stand out track for me is none other than, “Impress”, which is only 2 minutes long, but has a very melodic guitar framework to offset the incredible roar that Scogin presents alongside a deluge of heavily distorted, bass heavy noise. It’s the ending elements that really compel, like the end of a Bible reading at an orthodox church. The Chariot’s “Wars and Rumors of Wars” is a standout hardcore record from 2009, and really adds gasoline to the heavy music that Solid State Records has put out. Even though it was released in 2009, the production values and songs stand tall amidst more accomplished bands from the same era, and genre.
The Chariot “Unsung EP”
The Chariot’s “Unsung EP” should’ve been the biggest EP in the world, if you ask Josh Scogin and the people that saw him leave Cornerstone’s Norma Jean performance as his last with the group. The Chariot was formed, and the battle of the heaviest Christian hardcore band started. Previously, a lot of bands would take on the moniker, but this band was different. These guys had a lot of power within their ranks, and it was led by Scogin’s signature roar. Jake Ryan, Keller Harbin, Joshua Beiser, Neil Fox, and Mike Watts (mixing), took on 6 tracks and created a chess game of melodic hardcore glory with this record.
Released on December 6, 2005, the band took what should’ve been a forgettable batch of songs and made history, if you ask me. The strength of this EP was deep, which absolutely broke through to a jaded hardcore scene in 2005. The names of the tracks are funny, including “Phil Cosby”, “Vin Affleck”, and Donnie Cash”, all bring about some hilarity, but it’s the weight of the lyrical elements and the heavy guitar work that really shines here.
For those that loved Mike Patton’s contribution on several underground hardcore records, there’s incredible moments on this one. The drumming is stand out, as well as the roars and screams from Scogin. Where you may see a moment of peace to breathe, the band finds ways to shock and stun your senses with a wall of hardcore noise. It’s violence on a disc. It’s heavy, but without losing connection to the pop sensibilities that made Norma Jean a stand out before they shifted record labels. This bridge between records is a true testament of how good 15 some odd minutes of metal can be. Not quite metal, not quite full hardcore, and altogether an impressive package, The Chariot’s “Unsung EP” is one for the collectors, whether you’re a believer or not.
Buy, Download, Stream, or Steal Music From The Chariot Below: