The Chariot – One Wing
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Record Label: Good Fight
For the first time in its nine years as a band, The Chariot has finally released an album that matches the chaotic nature of its live show. You heard me. The band’s fifth studio release One Wing is the album we’ve been waiting for from the Douglasville, Georgia, quartet. While 2010’s Long Live came close, it’s One Wing’s collection of WMD’s that captures the true essence of The Chariot’s hyperkinetic stage presence. It’s also the band’s most cohesive output to date, as The Chariot has added some new tricks to its already devastating arsenal of metalcore.
Reunited with producer Matt Goldman, One Wing has The Chariot at its most focused while maintaining its spastic self. Thanks to Goldman, One Wing manages to sound crisp while remaining raw to the bone. Album opener “Forget” twists and turns behind Josh Scogin’s deafening roar. It’s a fairly straightforward Chariot song that focuses on beating you senseless before transitioning into the melodic unruliness of “Not” (which ends with former guitarist Russ Taylor laying down some strained vocals over discordant guitar riffs).
While the one-two punch that opens the album may seem familiar, don’t get too comfortable, as The Chariot brings the gospel on “Your,” a soulful reinterpretation of “The Faced Each Other” (which appeared on 2007’s The Fiancée). Scogin is absent as the hymn is paced by simmering organ keys and Angela Plake’s angelic voice, throwing out all the expectations you may have had for One Wing. The pristine track is quickly trampled by the abrasive “First,” a raucous rager that quickly turns into the best spaghetti western you’ve ever heard (at least in a metalcore song). Vibrant horns, maracas, run away percussion, and a sharp whip crack re-create the Wild West for Scogin to spill his guts on, making it the most memorable Chariot outro since “And Then, Came Then.”
You may have noticed that the track listing to One Wing is broken into two sentences – Forget not your first love. Speak in tongues and cheek. Each sentence five words long, splitting the album into two stories. If sentence one features The Chariot perfecting their craft, then sentence two has the band getting weird with it and taking it to the next level. The ruthless “Speak” is the slowest yet darkest song in the band’s discography, its weary piano keys plodding along with Scogin’s fiery vocals, proving that The Chariot can be heavy without throwing in a multitude of breakdowns.
Of course, we don’t want Scogin and company to abandon their signature move, which is embracing pure insanity – something the frantic “in” accomplishes in remarkable fashion. Its bristly structure has guitarists Stephen Harrison and Brandon Henderson feverishly trying to keep up with Scogin’s spitfire yelps. The industrial “Tongues” has an irresistible sludgy groove to it, while “and” has The Chariot throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Remember when I mentioned that “First” had the most memorable outro since “And Then, Came Then”? Well, I lied. I’m saving that honor for the prolific, chill-inducing closer “Cheek.” Borrowing a three-minute excerpt from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, “Cheek.” has the band unleashing emotional highs they’ve never released before, as the recklessness of squealing guitars in the final few minutes do little to cover up the passion that consumes Scogin’s final gasps on One Wing. You expect The Chariot to pile on the noise, not take your breath away.
One Wing is equal parts raw, deranged, beautiful, and immense – it’s a very primal and exhausting release; something you can feel pouring out of your speakers. This is The Chariot tearing off the head of what passes as metalcore these days and putting it on a bloody pike. Long live The Chariot.