Chiodos Illuminates Radiantly

Last year, Chiodos announced that they were letting go of its lead vocalist, Craig Owens. Many fans immediately panicked, fearing that no one would ever have the prowess to replace Owens’ unique sound and skill-set he brought to Chiodos.

To those fans, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. Brandon Bolmer, Chiodos’s new vocalist, has not only succeeded in replacing Owens, but has successfully carved out his own place in the band and in the genre. As many musicians would surely put it: he “kills it” in “Illuminaudio,” the band’s latest album.

Chiodos, known for their theatrical and haunting brand of rock music, features Bolmer’s vocal prowess in both the clean singing and screaming departments, along with the varied and intricate guitar work that couples nicely with the powerful drumming of new member Tanner Wayne. Another Chiodos trademark that makes its way onto this album are Bradley Bell’s piano, orchestral and synthesizer melodies.

This time around, their songs have a heavier feel than in their previous albums. With songs like “Stratovolcano Mouth,” Chiodos shows that they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty with some breakdowns that will be sure to get live audiences jumping around. To add to the heavy aspects of their music, Bolmer shows again and again that even someone with such a great singing voice can still scream with the best of them.

Just after the eerie opening track, Chiodos jumps straight into the action with “Caves,” which begins with a stirring vocal melody reinforced by epic instrumentals that allow for Chiodos to really strike the listener. This, among other songs, really demonstrates the sheer talent that these musicians possess, as expected from a band that has been around and making music for quite some time now.

Another heavy, yet melodic, song is “Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together,” which is probably one of the strongest songs on the album. It blends the theatrical musical elements that Chiodos is known for perfectly, while maintaining a certain degree of heaviness that will please fans of the heavier side of the genre as well.

Despite these heavier songs, there are a few here that show us that Chiodos can not only write intense metal riffs, but they’re also no strangers when it comes to writing music with a haunting side. A perfect example would be the guitars in “Love Is a Cat From Hell.” It’s a unique approach to putting a splash of variety in their songs and creates something that sets them apart from the other bands of the genre.

In addition to this song’s guitar work, Vic Fuentes, the lead guitarist and singer of the band Pierce the Veil, lends his vocal talent to the song to add another unique quality. Bolmer and Fuentes collaborate on the verses and make the song one of the standouts on the album.

Bolmer brings his vocal talents to this album, as well as his lyrical skills that are sure to strike chords with many listeners as he tells stories of facing fears, dealing with liars and the ever-pervasive theme of love. In particular, listeners will notice that the lyrics in both the introduction song and the closing songs are nearly identical, but with different musical feels.

The introduction is more somber and foreboding, and the conclusion sounds more hopeful for the future. More than likely, Bolmer is trying to convey that, through music and throughout our lives, we go through obstacles and adversity – something that we can all relate to.

Unfortunately, “Illuminaudio” does have its flaws. Midway through the album, the songs begin to blend together and, for the most part, are rather bland in comparison to the strong beginning of the album. The energy and unique songwriting of Chiodos begins to show itself again starting with the previously mentioned “Stratovolcano Mouth.”

Despite the obvious talent that Bolmer displays, many of the songs have very familiar feels in the vocal department. Since he has a great voice and is a pleasure to listen to, this isn’t a huge issue but it may leave the untrained ear to look at their iPod and question whether or not they’ve been listening to one really long song instead of three or four separate songs. This is true toward the middle of the album, as mentioned earlier.

In the end, “Illuminaudio” is another Chiodos album that successfully conveys a theatrical and truly epic feel to their songs through soaring hooks and the powerful blend of guitars, drums and various other musical elements. As one of their main hooks states: “those who slay together, stay together,” – and it looks like this new Chiodos is here to stay.