The Chariot – One Wing (2012)

The relationship between a band’s sound on stage and on record is a curious, and often multifaceted one. More than any of the other twists and turns that comprise this complex dynamic, there is the intangible persistent concept of energy. Does the band’s sound on record provide the same riot-rousing rampage kick it does live? Or conversely, does the music the band composes in the studio inspire wonton motion and aggression on stage such as it does in a car stereo or on your i-Whatever? The point is that frequently, a band’s sound on record doesn’t live up to the live experience–or vice-versa. This doesn’t always have to be the case, however, as is true with the latest release from The Chariot. This consistently complex and convoluted mathcore act have brought us a stellar, dynamic earache in the form of One Wing, a release which manages to properly encapsulate the band’s chaotic live show and relentless touring schedule into a record format, while doing it justice at the same time.

A beast with many heads, mathcore is complicated in it’s most pared-down and simple state. Where it has its trademark pitfalls, it also has its unique highlights. Where it can be dense, it can also be technically stunning. Where it can be overbearing and stubborn, it can be diverse and catchy. One Wing manages to pack in all of mathcore’s “greatest hits” with an acceptable minimum amount of “misses.” Instrumentally, it’s about as easy to follow as it is to trace a vein in your forearm to your chest. Starting in predictable patterns and bone-bristling build ups, it quickly grows more angular and convoluted until you can hardly tell what exactly is going on–only that you know where it will be when it’s over (hopefully) and you’re happy to be along for the ride. “Love.” is such a track: Laden with spastic melodies and riffs played over intensely dark and driving drums, rarely the guitars, bass and percussion combine to create a recognizable harmony or melody where each of its parts are clearly seen as they construct the overarching instrumentation. More often is the case, however, that at least one facet of the track lies buried deep underneath or soaring far above what the ear readily hears, forcing a deep examination and close scrutiny of the track until the listener can really understand what it is they’re hearing. 

I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Gosh,” you’re saying. “That sounds like work. I want to enjoy my music, dammit!” Well, The Chariot have you covered. While the complete comprehension of One Wing requires closer-than-average attention, the sheer disjointed lunacy and somehow grounded passion of the album is enjoyable at any level. The unexpected calm of “Your,” for example, clears the listener’s head and fills it with a simple, yet catchy and beautifully sung set of lyrics. Furthermore, “Love.”’s punishing, climatic breakdown is enough to start a mosh pit practically anywhere–starting with a heart-pumping buildup and crashing to a close with a pummeling, bone-breaking beatdown. The simplest, yet most emotionally intense moment of unbridled passion comes from the album’s single, “Speak,” in which an image so vivid is painted for the listener, that they can practically see the vocalist before them and feel his breath against their face. It’s moments like these which take the whirling chaos of One Wing and bring it into a simpler context which can be enjoyed at any level. Even as the intricate melodies grow dense and border on overbearing, these moments till ring true to the listener.

Even with moments of sparkling, graspable clarity, One Wing does have moments that are equally dense and murky. “Tongues” especially seems to drone and drag with less gripping chaos and technicality or bold-faced, up-front brutality which seem to form a dialectic in other tracks. Fortunately, throughout the carefully (albeit momentarily gimmicky) planned use of samples and varying instrumentation, monotony and aimless filler is kept to a bare minimum. While there are moments between “Your”’s needed respite and the intensity that is “Speak” which do seem lethargic, there are also moments like the Southwestern-twinged guitar and the flaring Spanish-sounding horn in “First” which catch the listener completely off-guard in the best way possible. Moments like this don’t just serve as a stalwart to monotony, but rather provoke emotional response and interest in the listener, forcing them to wonder just what else The Chariot might have up their collective sleeve.

For better or worse, it isn’t often that a band manages to keep a constant atmosphere between their performance and their studio-recorded sound. Even at that, when the two are similar, it doesn’t always serve for the better–just think at how many times you’ve said, “God, that must have been recorded in a basement or garage somewhere.” However, The Chariot continue to build at their monumental reputation and craft One Wing, an album which captures the sheer breathtaking insanity of their live show and present it in an emotionally driving and minimally-monotonous mathcore frame.


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By Connor Welsh ~ Me Gusta Reviews