Just over a year ago fans of Michigan’s Chiodos were given a shell shock when the band released the news that they would part ways with vocalist Craig Owens. There was much speculation as to whether or not the band would stay together, and even whether they should stay together. But even in spite of all the criticism, questioning, and concern the group has managed to bounce back into what could possibly be an overall better act.
Illuminaudio is Chiodos third full length studio album from Equal Vision Records. It’s also the debut release with new vocalist Brandon Bolmer and drummer Tanner Wayne after the departure of Craig and drummer Derrick Frost. Before we move ahead, I think it’s important to note that Owens was Chiodos — his unique voice gave the band the edge to stand out amongst the multitudes of bands in their genre, and there’s no replacing his style. However, Bolmer does a terrific job at filling in as vocalist, and even adds to the group as a whole. Illuminaudio clearly displays this. This album flows smoother, but keeps the same haunting theme as previous works from the group, with vexing piano outlining each track – especially in ‘Closed Eyes Still Look Forward’ and ‘Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together’ – as well as over saturated drum fills, so they haven’t necessarily left their old sound behind, although I get hints of their first album, All’s Well That Ends Well, more than anything.
Throughout, each track tends to be more melodic and orchestral, with anthemic chants and ‘Do Do Do La La La‘s, nonetheless talent deprived. One problem I had was that as much as I wanted to completely love this album, it was missing what I wanted to hear most: ear piercing, gut wrenching screaming vocals. Instead, the screaming from each track seems to be hidden amidst over-powering guitar fills and bursts of electronica chiming in from time to time. It’s highly distorted and weak, almost as if it were an afterthought to the whole thing.
The song that I keep coming back to as my choice track is “Love Is A Cat From Hell”, not because it features the whining shrills of Pierce The Veil’s Vic Fuentes, and not because of the title, but because of the chorus. Every time I hear ‘What goes around, comes back around,’ sung it reminds me of that 8 minute song from Justin Timberlake.
In the long run, I believe the member change up did good, and the boys are back making great music again.