The Chariot
Fiancée

Ok. Christian hardcore history lesson time, don’t even try to scurry away from this one, this shit’s mandatory, and you’ll feel all the better knowing the ins and outs of those rockers screaming for Jesus once your through with this review. As the Christian scene continued to expand and diffuse through the latter part of the 90s, more and more new bands kept spawning. One of the most promising was a band known as Luti-Kriss. Said band dropped their moody debut in 2001 but ridiculously were constantly confused with the rapper Ludacris, ludicrous if you ask me, but folks, it was happening.

Thus to alleviate themselves from this dilemma Luti-Kriss exhorted a name change to one that placed them as far away from the rapper as possible, enter Norma Jean. The metamorphoses of moniker thus stimulated a change in fortunes, as Norma Jean the band released their best work Bless The Martyr, Kiss The Child, and were even being touted (in some circles) as the ‘new wave of noisecore.’ As this success began to sink in, frontman Josh Scogin departed and formed The Chariot, leaving his former colleagues to move onto bigger (not necessarily better) things.

Which brings us to 2007 and the matter of The Chariot’s sophomore effort The Fiancée, where Norma Jean have spiraled into a frenzy of unforeseeable popularity, rather Scogin and company are far from tempted in pursuing the same path. The Fiancée like its predecessor is a noisy, belligerent and often caustic listen, never allowing any comfort or instant enjoyment to be reaped.

The record tears through its opening triumvirate in a heartbeat, each track pulsing with a raw, seething fury. The band sporadically settle into a slightly more relaxed groove on one of the album’s longer tracks ‘And Shot Each Other,’ but before doing so, they introduce the track with a passage of riffs that spasm and contort before giving way to the aforementioned relaxed groove. The predictable move here would have been to revert to the spastic beginning but instead, The Chariot introduces something far more peculiar. For the track’s final minute an angelic choir chants before seeping away into ‘The Deaf Policeman.’ Here a looser, slicker and above all rocky feel beats through before the track is halted leaving Scogin to froth madly over some quite pummeling percussion.

Its not the only anomaly featured here, ‘Then Came To Kill,’ features melodic vocals provided by Hayley from Paramore (of all people) that look to contrast the caustic section of the track where again, Scogin sounds as if he is frothing all over the mic. Its something that could have been utilized better and made more effective had the moment been expanded or made clearer but is unfortunately buried under a mesh of noise from the band.

The Fiancée is not an easy record to live with, let alone listen too. In its best moments its cocky swagger and confrontational groove (and performance by Scogin) make it an energizing, enthralling rush. However, at its worst, one is often left lamenting at that horrible, sickly feeling of what could have been had the band stretched out some moments and spent some more time here on parts of the record’s anatomy.

Furthermore it is still not the needed successor to the majestic Bless The Martyr, and whilst Norma Jean continue to tickle and appease the Hot Topic legions, Scogin must take the burden and bring forth that record to full the void.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Benjamin DeBlasi
June 28th, 2007

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