The “Devil” Has Risen (And so has Chiodos)

Chiodos-Devilcover

By Trevor Laliberte, ’16

Normally, I avoid pre-ordering albums on iTunes. It’s never been appealing to me to be able to download one song from an album before the release date. I was led into temptation, however, when the new Chiodos album was announced.

“Devil” is the first Chiodos release with original members Craig Owens and Derrick Frost since 2007’s “Bone Palace Ballet.” The world has been waiting seven years for this. On top of the band’s original member reunion, the group has also welcomed former Fall of Troy frontman Thomas Erak to the band as lead guitarist, and the album was engineered by Maine native Josh Wilbur. Needless to say, this is an exciting mix of people making music together.

As for the pre-order deal, iTunes released a new song from the album every Tuesday, leading up to the release on April 1. When the album was announced, “Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now” was released to the world. The first twelve seconds of the song are giant. Owens’ blood-curling scream itself is enough to shake buildings and send small animals scurrying back into the holes they crawled from. It was already clear at that point that “Devil” was going to pick up where “Bone Palace Ballet” left off, then add a whole new perspective to our understanding of Chiodos. And, of course, they’re continuing their trend of song titles that have no relevance to the content of the music.

A week later, “Why the Munsters Matter,” another track off “Devil,” was released to the masses like a fresh antelope carcass to a pack of hyenas. The song is very much driven by the heavy orchestral elements and vocal style that defines Chiodos, piercing its way through the talented riffage of guitarists Pat McManaman and Thomas Erak, and piano man Brad Bell. The chaos is controlled, however. The song has a powerful dynamic structure, something Chiodos has been developing for years. Their musical ability has matured since their early material, but their sincerity has stayed the same.

Chiodos has mixed many different styles. They’re no longer one consistent style for the whole album, and they’ve experimented with different moods, creating an array of emotions. Not to say that they weren’t experimental before, but it feels like they’re really pushing their comfort zones with some of these songs. “3AM,” one of the only songs on the album that noticeably takes influence from Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (also known as DRUGS), Owens’ project prior to the Chiodos reunion, is a notable change from their usual material. That one, and “Under Your Halo,” which I predict will get really big once summer comes, are both unusually happy-sounding for Chiodos.

Compared to earlier Chiodos work, “Devil” is both very different and very similar, and Thomas Erak’s influence from the Fall of Troy shows. It would be nice if some of his guitar parts stuck out more in the mix, but even in the background, adding him has led to some of Chiodos’s best work. There are parts in “Expensive Conversations in Cheap Motels” and “I’m Awkward & Unusual,” as well as other songs, that take influence from the early 2000’s post-hardcore sound.

“Duct Tape,” one of the most unconventional, unexpected songs on the album, is backed by a drum machine, giving the song the constant rhythm of a heartbeat, with the lingering suspense of the heart monitor at a deathbed. It’s reserved, but haunting. The instrumentation is minimal, but the band has proven the phrase “less is more,” as it is one of the best, most powerful songs they’ve released.

Overall, it was hard to know what to expect for this album, but I knew it was going to be the most significant in Chiodos’ career. I was right. It’s the most diverse, theatrical Chiodos album yet. This band is doing things that no other band in the genre is doing, and it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re strictly listening to pop or alternative rock and want to expand your music tastes, look no further.

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