First, a list:
1) The Battle of Verdun
2) Art & Culture During The T'ang Dynasty
3) Chasing Victory
4) Millard Filmore, The 13th President of the United States
The only thing the items in this list have in common is that they are a compilation of subjects that I know
little to nothing about. I got the commission to review Fiends, the third release from
Chasing Victory, a band I hesitate to call emo-core or alt-core, but nonetheless a band that falls out
of my normal bailiwick of extreme hardcore and metal music.
The album opener, "Chemicals," should be enough to rope you into listening to the whole record, which is a
magnificently written compilation of hard music written by a clearly accomplished band, not just your run-of-the-mill
weepy screamo kids. The vocals are nice, fairly standard; lots of shrieks mixed in with clear falsetto vocals. Songs
like "Wolves" and "Fiends" have vocal melodies that remind one a lot of bands like Mindless Self Indulgence with their
frantic octave changes and coffee-grinder-full-of-bones screams. On the softer side of Sears, they've got a lot in
common with the Bleed American sound of Jimmy Eat World, especially heart-renders like "Brides" with its weepy guitar
leads and quavering lyrics.
Breakdowns and rhythm parts on the aforementioned "Chemicals," "Fiends," and the second-to-closer "Kings," keep your
feet tapping and your head knocking. Chasing Victory should achieve a wide range of appeal, not being over-the-top hard
while also not bursting into tears about breaking up with some chick every two tracks and writing rock licks to diary
entries like The Cure. They've got a good mix of heartfelt and hardcore. Something for everyone, and incidentally, if
you buy the record at Best Buy, you get two bonus tracks not on the regular cut. A shameless gimmick, maybe, but a good
way to: A) get a Christian record at a store that generally only has a half-rack of "Inspirational" CDs that usually
include artists like John Tesh and Yanni, and B) Get two additional songs that are likely to be just as satisfying as
the rest of an album that is altogether very good.
I hesitate to call their message positive, but it's not precisely negative. They've got a handful of interesting
things to say, "I'll freeze the frame if you'll take the blame/ You're burning up the things you touch/ and the things
you love/ I've got the keys to your heart, and I'm coming inside" (from "Queens"). It's the typical "Is he talking
about a girl, or is he talking about Jesus?" ambiguity that you sometimes see in these types of bands, but it's also the
lovely thing about art, because you can take it as you will.
"Wolves" delivers, "She works her magic with a devil's ability/ She's a monster, a monster / She's got a fashion that
could humble an enemy/ She's a monster, a monster." That one's definitely about a girl. "Barbarians," "I've got
the remedy for you/ Throw out those medicines you normally consume/ I've got the remedy for you/ No needles and blood
and swallowing tongues/ Oh, brother, we're falling in love." That one's probably about God, and probably
definitely not about a girl.
Fiends is certainly a worthy third effort, and also certainly worth a listen.
- Review date: 5/31/07, written by Sean Lex