‘Devil’ marks the fourth full length LP from the Michigan-based post-hardcore sextet Chiodos and it also marks another line up change, with the return of the bands original lead singer Craig Owens after his departure in 2009.
If somehow you managed to avoid the internet for the weeks prior to the albums full release and miss all the tracks which flooded the internet then good on you! Opening instrumental ‘U.G. Introduction’ is the typical key tinkling, violin duckling that fans have come to connect with the band, but it gives us time to think about what sort of album this is going to be. ‘Alls Well That Ends Well’ came out almost ten years ago and changed a lot of fans lives, and much like the band their fans have grown up. Would the band carry on with their infectious post-hardcore sound? Well we needn’t have worried, it’s like nothing had ever changed with the band. Phew.
The band have returned with the original songwriting formula chock-a-block with catchy hooks, vivid and emotive verses, intense instrumentation and the ever fast transition of light and heavy riffs. ‘Devil’ will allow you to escape a little during it’s journey into a place where darkness rules, monsters roam and nothing is out of the ordinary. Craig’s vocals have also come a long way, his higher register isn’t for everyone but his harmonies are beautiful alongside his spoken word intro’s, most promiant in ‘Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now’. It’s a wonder how he can scream one moment, howling like a werewolf in transition and then immediately turn and burst out an incomparable falsetto.
‘Devil’ contains something for both the new and old fans barrelling through a multitude of genres, never quite settling down or allowing you to catch a breath. ‘3AM’ sounds comparably more pop-punk than the band have ever sounded but it seems fresh and unique- unlike a lot of what’s being released now- and is full of more hooks than a fishing boat. ‘Why The Munsters Matter’ is full of pulsing lyrics and a passionate chorus which balances cinematic strings and exceptional guitar work from Erak and Pat. Owens’ lyrics continue with a tone of self-reflection screaming “I’ve tried that/ I’ve tried that before/ I can’t go on as something I am not.”
‘Expensive Conversations In Cheap Motels’ could easily have been plucked from the bands first album with an explosive beginning full of screams and flicking fretboards while one of our favourites comes from right near the end of the album. Penultimate track ‘Under Your Halo’ is a ballad which shouldn’t work as well as it does but the soothing melodies and swimming vocals get right under your skin and crawl around looking for a way out.
Chiodos are known for their theatrics so naturally the final track on the album had to be larger than life and whilst it doesn’t pack the same punch as some of the fast paced songs, it’s certainly powerful lyrically. The album soothes out with the repeated lyrics of “I swear i’ve different now” over flickering radio sounds. It almost feels like an apology and justification of where Owens is in his life now.
There’s something familiar, yet unique about Chiodos’ sound as it fills the room like an ever evolving beast. It’s been a long time coming but a worthwhile wait, and although many early Chiodos fans may not want to give ‘Devil’ a chance it shows that the band have pushed themselves to the limit of what they can create and are well and truly back to form.