Chariots (America, North) – Congratulations

Chariots (America, North)

If I told you that I completely disliked Chariots (America, North) (note: we’ll just refer to them as Chariots henceforth, since the parenthetical annotation only acknowledges that there is another band already called Chariots), I’d be lying. This is Travis Bos’ new band. You might remember him from a little band called Song of Zarathustra that incorporated doomy Castlevania-esque keyboards into its post-hardcore mayhem. If you ever heard the second full-length from that band, A View From High Tides, then most of Chariots’ Congratulations will feel vaguely familiar to you.

When Song of Zarathustra ended its short-lived career with Tides‘ decidedly straightforward post-hardcore groove, some fans were disappointed. The lack of keyboards, along with a bizarre cover of the Pixies’ “Tame,” made for a lackluster effort from an otherwise exciting group. The more interesting songs from that record showed the band taking a turn toward Rites of Spring worship, with more melodic basslines and wiry guitarwork. Two years after that release comes Congratulations, a record that no serious Song of Zarathustra fan could take on its own considering how close to the original template it falls.

Chariots’ raspy screamed vocals, churning basslines, and precise drumming only seem like an obvious extension of that final SOZ record. Throw in a little more Jesus Lizard-style stomp, and you’re already there. That being said, Congratulations is not a bad record, it’s only slightly disappointing. Listeners hoping for a return to the keyboard-laden style of old won’t be happy, and neither will fans expecting to hear some progression or at least something a little different.

Where Chariots succeeds is in delivering tracks like “Bored Housewife Syndrome” and “Silver Tongue” with a ferocity not unlike the old Song of Zarathustra material. Tracks like “Hips Unite” and “Nouveau Riche” are considerably slower than most anything SOZ ever produced. The unfortunate part is that most of the material presented here is nothing new or very memorable.

With groups out there like These Arms are Snakes doing things that are similar but far more interesting, it’s becoming harder and harder to get away with making a by-the-numbers record like Congratulations. I only wish it was somewhat better. If Chariots sticks around to make a second record, maybe it can iron out some of these kinks and deliver the goods.