ALBUM REVIEW – “Devil” by Chiodos

As innovative and daring as they’ve been over the years, Chiodos have never quite delivered a wholly satisfying record that entirely realises their grand vision. Both their first two albums, with the now returned Craig Owens on vocals, showed that they were all brilliant musicians and had some really good ideas, but very rarely did these ingredients come together in coherent songs. 2010’s Owens-less Illuminaudio finally saw them focus their talents but in the process sacrificed what had made the band stand out from their peers. Four years later and Devil arrives as something of a second coming, the band reunited with their prodigal son. He’s learned a good few lessons while he’s been away.

If anything this album is as much a sequel to the sole, self-titled album we got from Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows as it is to Illuminaudio or Bone Palace Ballet. Where before he sought to impress with unconventional melodies that frequently grated against the music, Craig Owens has proven once and for all that he understands how to integrate himself properly into a song. The opening triumvirate (short introduction aside) cuts straight to the point with relentless instrumental fury and choruses so big any pop star would love to have them. This opening movement, concluding with the brilliant ‘Why the Munsters Matter’ sets out the stall for Devil as the most focused and effective Chiodos album yet.

Different tangents are henceforth explored (most notably the bittersweet MCR-esque balladry of ‘3 AM’ and the slithering succubus menace of ‘Duct Tape’), but without wandering into the mires of excess that had recurrently plagued the Chiodos of old. Flurries of screams and barbed musical tangents are always offset by comforting melodic hooks, even the ferocious likes of ‘Behvis Bullock’ and ‘Expensive Conversations in Cheap Motels’ avoiding collapsing into overkill, making them all the more potent in their aggression. Where the Chiodos of 2005 would split into a mess of tangled musical wires, now they funnel their frenzied writing into far more engaging streamlined shapes. It’s impressive stuff.

The beauty of ‘Looking for a Tornado’ and ‘Under Your Halo’ maintain the high standard Devil has set well into it’s second half, with the labyrinthine ‘I Am Everything That’s Normal’ bringing things to an end by harking back to previous progressive moments of the Chiodos discography. Inheriting the straightforward brilliance of D.R.U.G.S. without losing the quirks and attack of their previous work, Devil is the sound of a band revitalised that have matured to understand how best to deploy their disparate arsenal of talents. Musically intriguing and lyrically sound (“you’re too ugly to be narcissistic” is one of the best lines of the year so far), it’s without a doubt their best effort to date and a perfect sonic distillation of everything Chiodos, and its constituent parts, have ever been.

Rating: 8/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Ole Fishlips is Dead Now’

‘Why the Munsters Matter’


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