Take a quick glance at the track list for highly technical, wholly unpredictable metalcore outfit the Chariot's latest LP, The Fiancée, and you'll notice the titles of the first eight songs — when linked together — form something of a paradoxical and rather morbid poem: "Back to Back," "They Faced Each Other," "They Drew Their Swords," "And Shot Each Other," "The Deaf Policeman," "Heard This Noise," "Then Came To Kill," "The Two Dead Boys."
If this poem sounds vaguely familiar to you, then congratulations — you actually do remember something from grade school.
Frontman Josh Scogin — who was Norma Jean's founding singer before he departed following the release of that band's sophomore set, 2002's Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child — says he never heard the anonymously written limerick until his band started writing material for The Fiancée. That album is in stores now and follows 2004's Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding.
"Our bassist [Jon 'KC Wolf!' Kindler] just blurted out a part of it one day, and it intrigued me," Scogin explained. "I asked him what it was, and he told me he wasn't sure, that he'd heard it in elementary school, and so I did some research on it to make sure it wasn't in a book or something. ... There are hundreds of versions of it. I just kind of made up my own version of the poem so that each track would have its own title, and when reading it together, it would still make sense and keep in line with the original poem's story."
That doesn't mean The Fiancée is a concept record about the poem — none of the album's lyrics correspond with the song titles. But making the record was something of a different kind of experience for the Chariot — Scogin especially. Produced by Matt Goldman (Underoath, Cartel), The Fiancée was written and recorded under rather tight time constraints.
"It was actually a very easy record to write," he said. "It came more naturally to us. Sometimes with art, there's the art of, 'Well, I just created it because that's just what I wanted to do,' and then there's the art of, 'Well, we have a deadline, and we have to be done by this date — no exceptions.' This time the record was more the former — we wrote all of these songs within a week of each other and they all came very naturally, very fast and very easy. I like that process a lot better."
But that wasn't the sole difference between the recording sessions for Everything Is Alive and this latest studio offering. Scogin said he waited until all the music was finalized before even thinking about lyrics, which is something "I will never do again, because it was pretty challenging.
"A couple of weeks before we were in the studio, and even while we were in the studio, I was writing lyrics, so there was a lot of pressure [on me] in that sense," he continued. "Still, it came pretty naturally for me, but it was definitely one of those things where it had to get done, because ... we were in the studio and I just had to get them down on paper."
The Chariot — whose intense live gigs are the thing of metalcore legend — will hit the road Wednesday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with Misery Signals, I Am Ghost, the Human Abstract and I Hate Sally for a tour that runs through June 27 in Cleveland. After that, the band will do a short stint on this summer's Warped Tour, starting July 18 in Atlanta and concluding July 25 in Washington, D.C. But not every gig's been a slam-dunk, Scogin admitted — in fact, one concert the singer wasn't too proud of inspired a track on The Fiancée.
"I knew I was going to name a song 'Forgive Me Nashville,' and the lyrics are based around a show we played there where I kind of let the business of rock and roll get in the way of true rock and roll," the frontman explained. "My mind was somewhere else — on managers, tour managers, lawyers and all that crap. It wasn't my best show, and I wanted to make sure I named a song after it, to just keep that there in the forefront of my mind.
"The whole reason we're in a band is for the fun part of the performance," Scogin continued. "I come from back in the day, when you'd pay $5 for a show. ... We just try to make it worth it to the person who paid that money to get into the show. We try to pull out all the stops and make sure that every show stands on its own. ... We keep it spontaneous. Our first love is the live show — recording records, that's all circled around hopefully bringing more kids to the live show so we can perform for them. The focal point of this band is the live show and to make sure if you paid money to come see us, when you leave, you feel it was worth the money you'd spent."
While the Chariot have been tagged a "Christian" band, Scogin said he's not interested in force-feeding his beliefs on anyone else. To him, it's all about the music.
"I believe there are people in this world who have the exact opposite beliefs as me, and they hold firm to those just as strong as I hold to mine," he said. "When I was growing up, if I liked [a band], I listened to it — and I went to the shows. If I didn't, I didn't. It wasn't like, 'Oh, they don't believe the same thing I do,' or, 'They don't do drugs,' or, 'Oh, they do do drugs,' or, 'Their pants are too tight,' or, 'Their hair's too good.' ... What about just music — isn't that enough? People care too much about the fashion of it all. To me, a band's either good or they ain't, and that's the only thing that should matter."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Sikth frontmen Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill have taken leave of the British progressive metallers. The split is said to have been amicable. Goodman will pursue other musical activities, while Hill plans to focus on production work. The rest of the band is in the middle of writing new material for its forthcoming third LP but is in dire need of a new singer (or singers). Think you'd like to front Sikth? Applicants should e-mail the band at email@example.com. Goodman and Hill will remain with Sikth through the end of their July tour. ... Zao need a drummer again. Josh Walters — who just joined the band earlier this year as the replacement for Jeff Gretz — has left the band, according to guitarist Scott Mellinger. "He is very involved in his work and doesn't have the time needed to do anything music-related," the guitarist wrote in a statement. "We do have a friend that will be learning some stuff and hopefully be playing with us very soon. Once we solidify the drummer position, we will be playing some shows in our area and possibly be playing Cornerstone, Illinois. Zao is not dead. We have every intention to do shows and records in the upcoming months." ...
Arsonists Get All the Girls will tour in June and July with Elysia, Knights of the Abyss, My Bitter End and Moria. The trek's first gig is set for June 1 in Anaheim, California, and dates are booked through July 21 in Santa Cruz, California. ... Ex-Snot and Soulfly guitarist Mikey Doling will co-produce the debut album by Unset along with Brad Dujmovic. The disc will be released late this year on Gridiron Records, the label Doling co-owns with Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Kyle Turley. "Every song we put together comes from an honest and — at most times — vulnerable place," Unset singer Frank W. Torres said in a statement. "In the end, we hope that the record will portray a sincerity that borders on confession, an emotion that borders on madness and an originality that borders on art." So long as it borders on rockin', we'll be happy. ... The Great Deceiver, which features ex-At the Gates singer Tomas Lindberg, will release their third album, Life is Wasted on the Living, later this year on their new label Deathwish. The disc will be produced and engineered by Berno Paulsson (the Haunted, Amon Amarth) and will be the band's first offering since 2003's Terra Incognito. ...
Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing and neoclassical guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen will guest on two songs apiece on the upcoming Violent Storm album Storm Warning, which comes out July 17. The band was formed by ex-Ritchie Blackmore and Malmsteen tourmate Mick Cervino and ex-Blackmore's Night drummer Mike Sorrentino. In addition to playing on the album, Downing executive produced the disc. "When I heard Mick's stuff, I thought, 'This is pretty cool — it has a freshness about it. Very classic metal,' " Downing said in a statement. "So, I played a couple of solos and things went on from there." ... Modern thrash revivalists Lamb of God have been nominated for "Ballsiest Band" at Spike TV's Guys Choice awards. They'll be up against Disturbed, who are kinda ballsy themselves, but c'mon. ... Fans can vote right here through June 1. The show will be taped June 9 and air June 13. ... Chris Cornell's brother Pete is the singer in a New York-based band called Black Market Radio, which was just signed to startup label, Slugfest Records. Singing is definitely in this boy's DNA, which explains why his band bears a striking resemblance to early Soundgarden. "We are really happy about our addition to the Slugfest family," Cornell said in a statement, avoiding any reference to his brother's legendary outfit. "The combination of our raw power as a band and Slugfest's long-term plans are perfect. We will see everyone on the road. ...
Bury Your Dead singer Michael Crafter has decided to leave the band. "I wanted to prove myself so much and be a good frontman for [Bury Your Dead]," he wrote in a statement. "It's been two months since I got to the U.S.A. [from his native Australia], and all I have wanted is to be home with my friends and this stops me from giving my all. I met a lot of great people here. My time with the band was short and was a lot of fun and a great experience." ... Overkill's original drummer, Rat Skates, has just released his documentary film, "Born in the Basement." "This [movie] looks deep into the scene we came up in and should be required viewing for anyone starting a career in music," Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian said in a statement. Skates also served as associate producer of the upcoming Rick Ernst thrash-metal documentary "Get Thrashed," which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. ...
English doom band Orange Goblin will release their new album Healing Through Fire on June 26. The record is the group's first since 2004's Thieving From the House of God and includes "Vagrant Stomp," "Cities of Frost" and "The Ale House Braves." The first pressing of the album will include a DVD of a London show from 2006. ... Japanese black-metal trailblazers Sigh will play select U.S. shows with Israeli Mesopotamian black-metal band Melechesh starting July 6 in Brooklyn, New York, and running through July 14 in Montreal. Sigh will also open for Norwegian black-metal legends Mayhem July 16 in Santa Ana, California, and July 18 in West Hollywood, California. Sigh's tremendous new album, Hangman's Hymn, comes out June 12.