“This microphone is your microphone. This stage is your stage. This house is our house.”
These words are screamed at the top of The Chariot vocalist Josh Scogin’s lungs before every single one of their electrifying, legendary live shows. Though I’ve yet to experience one of their shows for myself, word of mouth has reached me through multiple mediums, just showing the commanding power of how the Douglasville, GA mathcore quartet has continued to branch out over the past nine years. However, things are about to change and Scogin will need a bigger stage, as the collective is set to release their fifth studio album One Wing, a monumentally moving album in every sense of the word. One Wing is much more than the best album in the band’s discography; it will also fit perfectly on your Best-of list at the end of the year. And you can proudly quote me on that.
To say that this is the best record that The Chariot has released would be a gross understatement. One Wing puts together a tremendous army of sound, energy and excitement, using every weapon in its arsenal to give you one hell of a listening experience. Opening with the thunderous one-two punch of “Forget” and “Not,” the band immediately immerses the listener in their standard hardcore sound – one they’ve been famous for producing on their previous releases. The band runs through this booming twosome as if nothing’s changed, starting right where they left off from 2010’s marvel Long Live. It’s a refreshing thing to hear, knowing that the group is in full swing once again.
Though the tracks bring a call to arms of the visceral, raw exhilaration that fans naturally expect from the group, it’s the moments you don’t see coming on One Wing that make it stand out above their other releases. Directly following “Not” is “Your,” which solely consists of a young woman singing a hymn-like re-imagining of a verse from “They Faced Each Other” from The Fiancee– beautifully, I might add. It’s a joyous moment for one sole reason: it allows you to throw all of your expectations out the window. The members of The Chariot are artists in every sense of the word, as their creations allow you to expect the unexpected, a theme that naturally flows through One Wing. When listening to the album, the smooth progression of the tracks is second only to the band’s dazzling ingenuity.
The placement of the tracks proves to be a wise decision, as “First” is up next. The leading half of the song gives an extremely Southern vibe, executing a consistent pace similar to Every Time I Die’s “Wanderlust.” However, it’s the concluding half that makes this song truly remarkable. Try and imagine if The White Stripes’ “Conquest” combined forces with Dick Dale & The Deltones’ “Miserlou.” Interested yet? “Speak” is equally notable, as it cuts out the album’s distortion-heavy guitar work entirely, and instead takes a simple grand piano-laden progression that blends in just enough for Scogin to belt his heart out. Unlike most of the material on One Wing, the lyrics for “Speak” come through crystal clear, which is a wise decision of the band as they end up being some of the best that the album has to offer (“Lovers beg your forgiveness right now/ Fathers speak to your kids right now/ To the prince, to the king, to the fathers of the free/ Beg for your workers who pray to God for me”). Because of these combining efforts, “Speak” ends up being one of the superlative moments of One Wing.
The vigor is turned back up once again for the jab and cross of “In” and “Tongues.” Though these tracks end up being less memorable after such a profound first half, they won’t soon be forgotten. “In” combines the customary hardcore elements found from artists like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Isis, as well as the inventive elements from artists like At the Drive-In to create a diverse array of influences. The lyrics feel darker in this track, as Scogin screams “We are all capable of love / we are all capable of cancer” over the brooding riffs. Immediately after, the album transitions into much more grimy territory with “Tongues,” taking a sound that feels straight out of the Planet Terror soundtrack. At four-and-a-half minutes, it does a great job of using its length to the fullest while making sure not to overstay its welcome.
“Cheek” closes One Wing in perfect Chariot fashion. The track takes a clip from the 1940 film The Great Dictator, as Charlie Chaplin’s character speaks to the people of a world free from the reign of their oppressors. “Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!” Chaplin recites, evoking thoughts within his audience of how the world may belong to the people once again. I feel that The Chariot share similar standards when it comes to perfecting their sound. Why should music have to stay the way it is? Why should we accept mediocrity when we can have perfection? Furthermore, why have stagnation when we can have progression? Throughout One Wing, this theme is prevalent, but it is through “Cheek” that the idea truly comes full circle. This is an album that pushes boundaries, questions the norm and asks a music-hungry public to expect more from those who create the music they listen to. So, readers, in the name of a better tomorrow, filled with musicians that promote this ideal, let us all unite.
What more can I say about One Wing, really? It’s a truly stunning piece of music, as it fearlessly conquers its genre in just over a half hour. Albums like this give you hope for the future of music, make us once again believe in music that’s inventive, edgy and daring. All in all, it just might go down as a definitive album – one that we look back on, knowing it was a triumph for all the right reasons. Only time will tell if the album will have as much influence as it seems it will, but for now, we can all just sit back, relax and enjoy One Wing. Praise the Lord, our time has come.
Check Out: “Cheek,” “Speak,” “First”
For Those Who Rock:
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Miss Machine
Every Time I Die’s New Junk Aesthetic
Nirvana’s In Utero