Sound — 9
Ever since The Chariot burst onto the metalcore scene in 2003, they have been turning the genre on its head. Known for ignoring the rules and utter sonic chaos, The Chariot pushes the line even further with their new album "One Wing". Josh Scogin tears it up on vocals with guitarists Steven Harrison and Brandon Henderson, drummer David Kennedy, and sadly ex-bassist Jon "KC Wolf" Kindler. Let's look at the tracks before getting too far into the sound. 01. "Forget": Kicks in high gear with a speedy lo-fi lick, giving way to that familiar arrhythmic chaos, great dissonant riff punctuated with triangle (0:36), cutoff before heavy breakdown at 1:50. 02. "Not": Big start, Scogin's vox start with a robotic filter, dissonant lead filled riffs, not sure who but cool vox at 1:00, heavy beat at 1:25, heavy detuned riff at 2 with new vocal style. 03. "Your": Beautiful southern hymn with female singer, amazing harmonies with organ, gorgeous reprieve from the sonic beatdown. 04. "First": Another good arrhythmic riff, pretty straightforward until 1:19, song turns into a Western soundtrack (so cool), just listen to it, one of my favorites. 05. "Love.": Fast paced and heavy with some hardcore beats mixed in, a lot of signature changes, devolves into muddy guitar strokes and reversed spoken word at 2:10, comes in heavy at 2:36. 06. "Speak": Just Scogin and piano. Dark and brooding. Intensely moving. 07. "In": starts offbeat and punchy, switches to an awesome hardcoresort of groove at:26, pretty harmonied vocals come at 0:50, dissonant leads return at 1:00 accompanied by a dentist's drill (just listen). 08. "Tongues": Slower riff, dirty and crushingly heavy, piano at 2:00 with drums, band back in at 3:20. 09. "And": starts with a Hawaiian guitar sample, fat riff around 0:45, sounds like song is done at 1:37, followed by a sample that lovers of "Long Live" will recognize, and back into an intense beat, awesome outro section. 10. "Cheek.": Standard melodic guitar progressions with random drums, transitions to Charlie Chaplin's "Great Dictator" speech, intensely emotional, sends chills down my spine, band in at 4:28 with punch and static, the perfect closer. So that's a lot of song explanation, but that is only because this album has such a perfect sense of sonic layering. It makes great use of samples. Like a horror movie, it knows when to shrink back to cause a dramatic thrill when it explodes in your ears. The playing and recording (Matt Goldman) are both as tight as can be. A solid 9.
Lyrics — 9
Vocally, this album is a monster. Josh Scogin is well known in certain circles for his pained vocals. They drip emotion like the blood he must be coughing up after each take. On top of that, beautiful guest singer interludes add great melodies where appropriate. Aside from the awesome one-liners being displayed ("Love", "They lost their voice in the choir"), the lyrics (that I can make out) are rife with emotional commentary on love, faith, buying into other's ideals, etc. All fairly standard lyrical fodder, but executed in an awe-inspiring poetic fashion. The vocals step in perfect time with the instrumentation even when the rhythms go out the window, and you can feel what he puts into it when he chokes and gasps for air after long lines (the end of "Cheek.").
Overall Impression — 10
So far, I must sound like the biggest Chariot fanboy on the planet, but anyone who is into legitimate metalcore or math would do themselves a great disservice by passing on this album. They have dipped into territory that only bands like Converge and Botch dare go but have added enough experimentation to set their sound apart. I really can't pick a favorite song (maybe "First"?) because it fits together so tightly. The only thing I didn't like was that I wanted a little more airtime out of it, but that is barely a problem in the scheme of things. I truly believe that this will be one of my top metalcore albums of all time. That's why I'm going to give it one of the higher ratings I've ever handed out. I've rambled on so all that's left to say is "Long live The Chariot." Pick this up.