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Album Review
Chiodos - Devil Album Cover

Chiodos - Devil

Reviewed by
7.3
Chiodos - Devil
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Record Label: drk/lght/Razor & Tie
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Devil is more than just Chiodos' first album in seven years to feature Craig Owens behind the mic again - it's a "prove it" type album for Owens, Bradley Bell, and the rest of the band. It seems kind of weird that the future of the band that has sold hundreds of thousands of records could be determined by this album, but here we are - Devil is the band's renewed opportunity at the scene domination they left behind in 2009.

While Illuminaudio had Chiodos' most technical work yet, it was a snoozefest as Brandon Bolmer failed to bring any charisma to the release. And where do we start with D.R.U.G.S.? A project seemingly buried by the insane amount of hype leading up to the release, the supergroup's only record failed to register with many fans - Owens' presence could only carry so much of the album's inconsistent writing. Both of these releases had a handful of really good tracks ("Caves" and "Modern Wolf Hair" from the former and "My Swagger Has A First Name" from the latter; along with both parties versions of "Thermacare"), but it was apparent to most that both sides needed each other to reach their goals.

With Devil, Chiodos isn't just settling for a good comeback story and a decent follow-up to Bone Palace Ballet. Rather, the sextet aired their grievances, added former Fall of Troy axeman Thomas Erak, and pushed themselves to the limit of what they can create. The grandiose intro of "U.G. Introduction" leads into the duel guitar attack of "We're Talking About Practice," with Owens bellowing, Turn off the lights and turn me on along with the first of many mentions of his battles with his inner demons. It's a rousing re-introduction to the band, continuing with the pummeling "Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now," which unleashes the album's first knee-buckling breakdown along with Owens' strained screams of This is love!.

The first two tracks are classic Chiodos, showcasing a band that's perfected the sound from its first two releases. "Why The Munsters Matter" balances cinematic strings with masterful guitar work from Erak and Pat McManaman. Owens continues his tour of self-reflection (I've tried that, I've tried that before./I can't go on as something I am not.). It's another song right in the band's wheelhouse, but it's something they execute to near-perfection. But right before listeners can get too comfortable, the band starts throwing all its off-speed pitches. "3 AM" is for those fans who miss Cinematic Sunrise, as the track's pop-punk tendencies pace Owens' confessions of selfishness. "Sunny Days & Hand Grenades" feels like the distant weird cousin of "Lexington (Joey Pea-Pot with a Monkey Face)," while creepy "Duct Tape" is the band's take on mixing industrial with pop. Not everything works in this trio, but it's a sign of a band pushing themselves as musicians instead of remixing old sounds (Bell and bassist Matt Goodard present some of their best work throughout this portion of Devil). The album's best moment is when its soul is revealed on career highlight "Looking For A Tornado." The acoustic-tinged intro evolves into one of the most powerful rock songs of the year. Chiodos is firing on all creative cylinders here - the guitar work is subtle but effective, Derrick Frost dominates on the kit, and Owens bitterly exclaims, I put too much of my faith in nothing.

Throughout Devil, Owens is constantly fighting outside obstacles such as doubters and exes, but more importantly he's battling himself. The album's title is no accident, it's referenced many times throughout. Owens chronicles these battles on the pulverizing "Behvis Bullock" (Like the devil I was cast out and defined by sin/I believed I could be some kind of hero but I got lost/And on my way to heaven/I was dragged through hell.) and vents frustrations on "Expensive Conversations In Cheap Motels" (I fucking hate you/I'll feel alive when I watch you die/I want to break you.). It's not a surprise that these songs are the heaviest moments on Devil - while Erak never replicates his Fall of Troy shredding, he and McManaman undoubtedly have chemistry together and it shows on these tracks. Devil's frenetic final track, "I'm Everything That's Normal," serves as a rallying cry and a nod to the band's past and future (Look at us now, we're right back where we left off/It's our time to really do things right). It closes with Owens' repeatedly saying I swear I'm different now - a reminder the singer has matured, grown in his relationships, and owned up to his mistakes - his definition of "devil" being "the moments where you are forced to make a choice that will determine how it is that you look at yourself for the rest of your life." This is Craig Owens burying the past and moving on, resulting in the vocalist best performance ever.

While it's not without its faults ("Under The Halo" should have been left on the cutting room floor and the aforementioned trio of "3 AM," "Sunny Days And Hand Grenades," and "Duct Tape" won't work for every one), the proof is in the pudding - Devil is assuredly the most daring, exhilarating, and personal work of Chiodos' career, reigniting the band to continue on (the initial reunion was intended to be a farewell). Devil balances the right amount of Bone Palace worship and creative freedom, thanks to producer David Bottrill, helping the band craft all their influences and talents into one cohesive product. So even though this isn't peak Chiodos (yet), Devil has the band on the right path to reclaiming the the top spot of the scene food chain sooner rather than later.

7.3/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 115
05:42 AM on 04/03/14
#2
ThaRealNC
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I agree that "Looking for a Tornado" is the best song of the band's career. I just with they could have chased that sound a bit more on this album, it's just way too scattered and disjointed for me to consider it their best work.

Nevertheless, good review. Enjoyed your breakdown.
07:46 AM on 04/03/14
#3
iamalexenglish
I AM KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!
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Wow great review. You're a great writer dude
08:27 AM on 04/03/14
#4
Blake Solomon
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very fair review. never been a huge fan of this band, but im giving this a try now.

i always like it until the breakdowns, which is why i always liked bands like Secret & Whisper and Saosin more than this style of music. but his voice is pretty great and theatrical and in the right mood this stuff just hits.
09:02 AM on 04/03/14
#5
Vance Mook
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This album is an easy, fun listen- I actually enjoyed Illuminaudio and DRUGS though, moreso than anything else Craig and the band have done. With the exception of "3 AM" and "Under The Halo", I think this contains some of the band's best work yet. Great write-up.
09:25 AM on 04/03/14
#6
iamalexenglish
I AM KING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!
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Yeah I can dig drugs sometimes as well
09:31 AM on 04/03/14
#7
.dot
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This is easily the best review I have read on this site. Props.
09:34 AM on 04/03/14
#8
Mattylikesfilms
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Illuminaudio a snoozefest? Haha anything but good sir. It's hands down the bands best record. It's much more consistent than this record (the verses of 3AM sound like some whiney pop punk song) and has a lot more force that never felt stale. This record gets stale at times.

While I do see this album as regression- I remind myself that it's a completely different band since Craig is definitely a different artist compared to Bolmer. Sure Craig has more charisma and he's off the wall but his lyrics are at times juvenile and cringeworthy. As a record with Craig at the helm? This is a pretty decent record considering. Would I have preferred another Chiodos record with Bolmer and Tanner?

A THOUSAND TIMES YES. Just thinking of the possibilities gets me equally excited and bummed. I would have even thrown stupid money into it if they did a kickstarter to do their own label or something. I don't know, I don't care, it'll never happen anyways. Oh well. Chiodos fans didn't discover the record until it was too late and the sad truth is the band was on a fast decline in popularity and shows. I blame it on the fans being dumb as hell and the band needing even more promotion/better tours.
09:40 AM on 04/03/14
#9
ratsforcandy
i miss the seasons..
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I dig this album, minus Duct Tape. Nice job, Thomas
09:43 AM on 04/03/14
Blake Solomon
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this song "expensive conversations in cheap motels" is a fucking barnburner.

fun album. never said that about one of their records before.
09:47 AM on 04/03/14
niclliot25
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I've only listened to this album a couple times but I'm enjoying it. I agree with Under Your Halo though, that song shoulda been scrapped. The lyrics are cringeworthy.

As far as illuminadio, I think people overhype it because it doesn't have Craig (a lot of people hate him and his vocals), but I agree it's a bit dull and samey. I still enjoy it, but it's not better than Chiodos' first two albums buy a long shot.
09:49 AM on 04/03/14
dejadegaussed
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Good album, great review, some reallyyy great songs on here. Thomas being under-utilized is the biggest letdown. Jason Hale was given his opportunities to steal a track on older albums, I hope Thomas has the same opportunity moving forward. SUPER stoked on seeing them live again this month though.
09:53 AM on 04/03/14
D' Evils
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Illuminaudio a snoozefest? Haha anything but good sir. It's hands down the bands best record. It's much more consistent than this record (the verses of 3AM sound like some whiney pop punk song) and has a lot more force that never felt stale. This record gets stale at times.

While I do see this album as regression- I remind myself that it's a completely different band since Craig is definitely a different artist compared to Bolmer. Sure Craig has more charisma and he's off the wall but his lyrics are at times juvenile and cringeworthy. As a record with Craig at the helm? This is a pretty decent record considering. Would I have preferred another Chiodos record with Bolmer and Tanner?

A THOUSAND TIMES YES. Just thinking of the possibilities gets me equally excited and bummed. I would have even thrown stupid money into it if they did a kickstarter to do their own label or something. I don't know, I don't care, it'll never happen anyways. Oh well. Chiodos fans didn't discover the record until it was too late and the sad truth is the band was on a fast decline in popularity and shows. I blame it on the fans being dumb as hell and the band needing even more promotion/better tours.
THIS.
10:02 AM on 04/03/14
OpenIntro
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Illuminaudio a snoozefest? Haha anything but good sir. It's hands down the bands best record.

7 posts before a post about Illuminaudio. Progress.

But seriously, do ya'll hang out on illuminaudiostreetteam.com or something?
10:16 AM on 04/03/14
thechetearly
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this album is just such shit! how could you possibly score it that high!?

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