When it comes to the music of The Chariot, there are many consistencies to be found. These consistencies aren’t just found within their expectant red-hot metalcore-meets-mathcore conflagration, which has blasted them through five studio releases, but also within the live aspect that they hold so close to them today, and have since day one.
Similarly to what they did on The Fiancee, The Chariot themed their fifth and recently released studio album, One Wing, around two lines of a poem – the lines being “forget not your first love / speak in tongues and cheek.” According to Josh Scogin, the band’s vocalist, the first line can be quite accurate in describing the band’s state of mind.
Scogin explains, “To ‘forget not your first love,’ being five albums deep, I wouldn’t necessarily say we struggle with it, but it’s definitely something we always want to keep in the forefront, always keep in our brain and remember. The world around us is always changing. The music industry is very much ‘here today, gone tomorrow,’ ‘doing this, doing that,’ and ‘contracts’ and ‘business’ and ‘scratch my back.’ If you still just love playing shows then that’s really as simple as it is. I love playing shows, so nothing else really has to matter for that.”
And if you’ve ever seen The Chariot live, it’s pretty darn evident that playing live shows is the foundation of the band’s career, and that sort of chaotic pungency has really come to define their philosophy. One Wing continues the band’s mentality of live performance first, studio record second. According to Scogin, it’s the energy, the camaraderie and the sweat of a live show that influences the work put into each album they produce. “For us, our records and our live show are one in the same. It is what influences us to write the music we write and to do what we do. When we go up onstage to play each night, we don’t have to fake anything. We’ve written music that’ll hopefully push us that night and give us that mentality that we need to enjoy ourselves – to have the freedom to do whatever that looks like,” he muses.
When it comes to live performances, Scogin is a huge fan of musicians ranging from Elvis Presley to James Brown to Jerry Lee Lewis, and they’ve all influenced the band in some way or another. And those influences, though not comparative sound-wise, really stick out in the definitive spectacle that is One Wing.
“Those [artists] stick out to me because they’re great music – you can’t deny that – but at the end of the day, not that I’ve ever been able to see them in real life, just knowing the performances they pulled off and knowing the stories that were told because of it, that’s what set me on my path and set The Chariot on its way.”
The first few tracks off the new record are classic Chariot tracks – full of energy, chaos, crunchy instrumentation, and intense, raspy vocals from Scogin. However, track three, “Your,” is a departure from the familiarity of the band’s metallic brand of hardcore. Scogin’s screams are replaced by the lovely voice of Angela Plake, while the punk-laced guitars are replaced by silence.
“We wanted a beautiful voice to come in just to give your ears something different than my gnarly voice contracts. So we knew what we wanted: something that’s kind of an intro to that next song. When it came time to choose who we would have sing, we were like ‘Let’s get her. She sings awesome, and she’s a long-term friend of the band,’” mentions Scogin.
If there’s any track off One Wing that resonates within the listener the most, though, it may be the album’s finale, “Cheek.” The song includes a clip from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in the movie The Great Dictator. Scogin describes the speech as insane – he finds it to sit extremely well with both himself and the rest of the band. “He [Chaplin] talks about the idea of having all this technology but they use it to build walls and board themselves in. They have technology, yet they’ve disconnected themselves from what really matters, and that’s just human communication.”
From hearing the ten songs that The Chariot have produced with their newest work, it’s considerably possible that the band has succeeded in fulfilling Chaplin’s call to action. One Wing is 30 minutes of brutal, scorching, immersive, and intensely thought-provoking music that tenderly follows through with what Chaplin said; the band uses the technology of music to reinforce the beauty of art and human nature, and that can be found within the defining elements of the album.
One of these elements is the album’s lyrical sensibility. Though the lines that title each of the songs come together to create a loose concept – a concept that the band uses as a memento of their beginnings – Scogin doesn’t feel they describe the actual lyrics behind each song.
“Basically when I write lyrics for songs, I feel like they can stand on their own, they can say what they need to say already. So I don’t necessarily need the title to back that up. For me, it’s always like, ‘Well, I might as well not waste the title. I might as well have it say something too,’” Scogin says. “As far as saying it’s a concept record, I wouldn’t say there is a concept in a sense of point A to point B storyline or anything. But I’m sure there’s definitely a loose sort of thread that ties it all together, lyrically speaking anyway.”
Arguably, the thread that ties One Wing together is its powerful message, found within the album’s seeping veins. The message could be found through the its artistic venture. It could also be found through the excerpt from Chaplin’s speech. But most of all, it’s found lurking in the rough, unbridled package of bliss that sets listeners free and reminds people of the realness and rawness of music.
Scogin opines, “I’m a big believer of technology, but I think it should be used to benefit and not to take away. I think a lot of times people want to dehumanize music. Like, the singer didn’t quite hit this note, so we made it perfect. And it’s like, that’s what he did, and he either needs to do another take or he shouldn’t be singing in the band. If that’s an ongoing problem so much so as you have to fix it, then why are they here? And I’m not trying to talk badly about anyone. I know everyone and their mom uses these conveniences, and that’s fine. But for us, we’d rather it be real humans performing the real music.”
And just as the band are real artists performing real art, the same can be said about the man behind the artwork: Trey Moseley. Scogin says the band wanted something very colorful and very different, something to keep them on their toes. With Moseley, they found the perfect fit.
“Every piece he has, I could tell you three or four different stories which aren’t necessarily where he is coming from, but nevertheless, it means something to me. And I think that’s the best part of any art, and it’s just like, ‘I made it because of this, but someone else takes an entirely different view and it means this to them.’ And it’s not right or wrong, it just means that to them.”
According to Scogin, his pieces are so expressive in nature that it was an obvious choice to have Moseley do the album art. The band had him come in during the writing and recording process, and eventually he was able to come up with a cover piece. “We were like, ‘Let’s just let him paint and see what he comes up with.’ To say the least, he definitely impressed us. He definitely went all out. I love it,” he enthuses.
Just like the colorful, creative expressions of the artwork, The Chariot find themselves pursuing a similar extent of expression. One Wing sees the band continuing to evolve as musicians and expand the artistic elements of their music, while keeping the album as unrestrained and compact as possible.
“We’ve opened more doors and broken down more barriers because as any artist does, you always want to expand your horizons, stretch yourself further and do more. With us, I feel like we do that with every record, but hopefully with this record, we grow and we become better musicians and we experience different things. Hopefully with every record it’s that much more expressive and that much deeper into the realms of things – us pursuing different artistic ventures.”
There are many consistencies found in One Wing: the live, pure aspect of The Chariot, the chaos welded together with beauty, and in general, the band’s powerful, heart-wrenching music and lyrics. And while they’re making sure to “forget not their first love” by continuing their typical raw, staunch metal onslaught, it’s also quite possible that One Wing could be The Chariot’s most potent, most fulfilling collection of songs to date.