I'd like to make a hypothesis: out of all of the genres of music
in the world, I would (arguably) suggest that the corner of punk-rock
labeled as "screamo" could very well be the most difficult
kind of music in the world to make. Now, I'm not trying to say
that it is hard to create a hard rock inspired scream-fest, but
to successfully pull it off seems to be quite an intimidating
feat. Because underneath all that "noise", there must
be a fine line created that balances the screeching and glottal
growling against the musicality of the album itself. Good screamo
(at least to the extent of my knowledge) is not based on how many
decibels the vocalist's voice reaches or how indistinguishable
and muddled the music sounds, but is largely stationed around
how balanced the aggression of the the music is versus standard
song requirements like melody, rhythm and lyrics.
And now after that brief prelude, I feel prepared to tackle Chiodos'
Bone Palace Ballet, or as I like to call it, "The
Great Screamo Rock Opera". The cover of the album features
two finely dressed skeletons (one in a tailored suit and top hat
while the other dons a flowing white gown and "Bride of Frankenstein"
hair-do), and instantly I begin to draw irrational comparisons
to My Chemical Romance's monumental The Black Parade.
But after simply listening to the first track, any sort of correlation
gets smashed. Less formulaic and more emotional, Chiodos has done
something special here.
Lead singer Craig Owens has vocals that combine the sounds
of Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, Coheed
& Cambria's Claudio Sanchez and The Used's
Bert McCracken, and it is fully effective throughout most
of Bone Palace Ballet, especially on "Bulls Make Money,
Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered" where it reaches
heights unheard of to most contemporary male singers (vocal chords
of absolute steel). The production value of the album is also
quite beefed-up in comparison to other rock groups; a string orchestra
of violins often can be heard bouncing in the background of some
of the tracks, while a moody cello will shake any speakers' bass-function
off its foundation (take one listen to "Life Is a Perception
of Your Own Reality" and you'll be dumb-founded by how well
a symphony can fit in with hard rock).
Their lyrics are also worthy of some special attention as they
trudge through the muck of self-deprecation and lurk in the shadows
of sickly twisted and intimidating perversion: from the devilishly
titled "Is It Progression If ACannibal Uses A Fork?",
"I want to know what's going on in that pretty little head
However, this disc isn't the pure vocal-soaring, raw-emoting
experience that it thinks it is. I wouldn't call the guys in Chiodos
pretentious, but I also wouldn't say they were terribly humble
in their execution of Bone Palace Ballet. Yes, there are
some really great tracks here that I must say surprised me in
how well-developed they are, but based on my earlier hypothesis,
they haven't perfected their "screamo craft" just yet.
In songs like "Teeth The Size Of Piano Keys", they seem
to let their above-average lyricism get lost in the pool of crashing
guitars and ear-bleeding vocals. Though not as prevalent as the
hits on the record, the misses are blunders because of their lack
of congruent connection between lyrics and the music itself. Just
not meshing right, it's a shame that the heart-breaking "If
I Cut My Hair, Hawaii Will Sink" becomes completely overwhelmed
by the unnecessarily wailing vocals and rhythmically terrifying
But as the curtain closes on the Bone Palace Ballet and
Chiodos take their final bow, they will undoubtedly be met with
thunderous applause. However, let's hope they don't get their
hopes up when the standing ovation that they expect doesn't come
as quickly as they'd like.
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