The Chariot – One Wing

Band – The Chariot
Album – One Wing
Release date – Out Now
Label – Eone/Good Fight
Sounds like – The Good, The Bad, The Chariot.

I haven’t listened to Josh Scogin shout at me for about 10 years; not since ‘Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child‘ an album which sounded like Botch, with better haircuts and stupider song titles. ‘Memphis Will Be Laid Waste‘ was always a blast of aggressive, feedback-laced terror though.

Anyway, Scogin hasn’t done Norma Jean for a decade, so let’s stop talking about them.

‘One Wing’ is The Chariot’s fifth album and for a band that I had previously lumped in the ‘shouty-metalcore’ file, I have to say, I’m impressed by just how bonkers this is. Sandwiched between the whirlwind of discordant and abrasive noise, is a spaghetti-western set-piece, a church organ backed only by echoing, female vocals and a Charlie Chaplin monologue from the film ‘The Great Dictator’.

One Wing‘ opens with a swift and stark hammering, courtesy of ‘Forget’ (it should be noted that the song titles on ‘One Wing’ actually spell out two sentences, each containing five words). Vocalist Josh Scogin spits and snaps with rapid-fire intensity, possibly at war with himself, whilst around him, guitars and drums shift and reform like the hellraiser puzzlebox; with each new riff, beat and wailing shred bringing a new dimension of gnawing frustration.

‘Not’ follows suit, all gnarly, distorted guitar shredding and big vocal roars. When the backing shouts kick in, it’s as if Scogin has rallied a militia – ready to roar. This feels very Dillinger Escape Plan is execution; jagged time signatures litter ‘Not’ as does the headfuck pummeling rush of a band trying to fit more music than it’s humanly possible into a track that’s less than 3 minutes.

‘Your’ is 68 seconds of beautiful, soaring female vocals, backed by a haunting and quite solitary piano score. It feels like a skit, but at the same time it works – who’s to say this isn’t as intense as what we’ve heard seconds before hand? It also slips nicely into ‘First’ which starts with Scogin yelling “OOOH!” as if he’s just flicked the radio from Smooth Classics back to Planet Rock.

Grooves are well defined on ‘First’; strutting, southern-rock twangs seep through the brutal and elaborate drumming, whilst the riffs grow and build around the strained vocal bark. It then all goes a bit Ennio Morricone around the 1:20 mark. Yes, ‘First’ becomes a big, bombastic western piece and it sounds amazing. The transition is seamless – when the horns kick in, the whip-cracks, Scogin’s passionate screams, you know this a stone-cold winner and one track you’ll be skipping back to again and again. ‘Love’ swings us back to The Chariot’s familiar hostility, distorted screams fed through a radio, meet bloodthirsty heaviness for the most part. The midsection slows to a barely audible passage of samples, before morphing back into a squealing discordance.

‘Speak’ reminds me strongly of Touche Amore’s ‘Condolences’ – a desolate, piano-led piece, featuring Scogin bearing his soul (and his lungs) with ragged desperation. You can hear and feel his voice cracking with the strain, the scorn and the rawness. ‘In’ batters back with yet more grooves and oddball antics (what the fuck is that wailing noise in the background and is that a power drill?) This is probably what it sounds like to fall down the stairs whilst trying to play the guitar and the drums at the same time.

‘Tongues’ lurches at a staggered gait, similar to that of These Arms Are Snakes, yet more abrasive in execution and littered with sporadic cymbal crashes and a eerie, howling guitar tone than continues to rise and rise with see-sawing menace. The interlude of soft piano, a steadfast drumbeat, strings and Scogin’s distorted howl feel like a war-montage as our protagonist struggles to get his hearing back after being too-close to a bomb. The explosive return is pure sludge-rock, as The Chariot drag up riff after filthy riff.

‘And’ is back to basics; the animosity and drive splatters through, whilst the brief samples throw the track in different directions. Final track ‘Cheek’ features Scogin bellowing “I’VE FOUND THE ANSWER! OPEN YOUR HANDS! I FOUND THE ANSWER!” Over and over, until a drum crash cuts him off and so begins the aforementioned Chaplin sample, whilst a swirling vortex of sound echoes in the background. It’s unnatural and disturbing, but damn powerful. As the words, “Soldiers in the name of democracy let us all unite!” sound out, The Chariot return, pick up their instruments and finish what they’ve started. The end is dense, feedback-strewn and concentrated – cutting off abruptly, making it even more potent.

‘One Wing’ is a magnificent 30 minute blast of erratic, yet essential styles. Even if you’re not a fan of heavy music, you need to give this a try to truly appreciate how metal can be done right – essential listening, easily one of my favourite albums of the year.


The Chariot

Good Fight Music

By Ross Macdonald

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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