By Reyan Ali
4:20 PM EDT, March 12, 2013
The Chariot w/ As I Lay Dying, For Today, Vena Amoris, Forgetting Fame, Burn Lexington and Endless. $22 advance, $25 doors. 4 p.m., Mar. 17. The Webster, 31 Webster St., Hartford, webstertheater.com
In his capacity as the voice, architect and face of the Chariot, Josh Scogin has consistently shown that he's willing to roll with any idea if it's for the greater good of contrast. 2012's One Wing, the Atlanta hardcore/metalcore outfit's fifth record, presents fresh evidence supporting this perspective. The album's single-word track titles link into a sentence as “Forget not your first love, speak in tongues and cheek,” which is some kind of rallying cry for the band — a decade old in 2013 — to feel affinity for their roots. The song “Cheek” hinges on a long vocal sample of Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator where he encourages peace and prosperity in humanity. In “Your,” guest vocalist Angela Plake re-purposes lyrics from “They Faced Each Other” off the Chariot 2007's disc The Fiancée, singing her verses in a clear, gorgeous tone over a kind organ melody. It's an unlikely moment of simple serenity wedged into a record that's unabashedly sharp and rancorous, but by now, Scogin's preference for the unexpected should be a given.
For a start-to-finish example of the Chariot's tactics, take the story behind One Wing's “Speak.” “The idea with the Chariot is there's a lot of feedback and a lot of extreme guitars and high energy drums. We use all those tools to fulfill the emotion we feel when we're pursuing the music,” the 30-year-old Scogin says. Because of their heavy use of this repertoire, an idea popped up when they were making 2010's Long Live: Could they produce something as passionate as their regular material if they were removed from all their primary tools and only had a single other instrument? Nothing materialized out of this on Long Live because the record was already set into place by then, but the concept reappeared for the Chariot's “Speak.” Now, the song is just a stark, doomed piano segment accompanied by Scogin scorching his vocal chords without the faintest hesitation.
As a musical project, the Chariot's history traces back to a pair of other similarly themed groups — namely, Luti-Kriss and Norma Jean — Scogin fronted in the late '90s and early 2000s. After leaving Norma Jean soon after the release of that band's 2002 debut record, the Chariot released its first full-length with 2004's Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding. As a name, the Chariot goes back to when Scogin was a child and heard about the Bible parable in which Elijah is lifted up to the heavens thanks to a chariot of fire. The image stayed embedded in his memory bank for years until he finally utilized it for a band name.
The Chariot's ever-experimental sensibility is half their draw nowadays. The other is their intense, dramatically rancorous performances — all of which are led by a guy, who in this interview and others, comes off as more affable and agreeable than bloodthirsty. Scogin finds performing to be an immensely therapeutic release that ultimately allows him to be mellow. “I would like to think that if I didn't [perform] every night, I wouldn't just be some hatchet-wielding maniac or anything, but you never know,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe the Lord knows what He's doin'.”
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