There are a lot of people awaiting some new music from Craig Owens, who’s split from Chiodos a little over a year ago polarized fans, many believing the band would fail to continue and succeed without their ace vocalist. But Chiodos went on to make a new album with a new singer, Brandon Bolmer, and Craig got a hold of Matt Gold of From First to Last fame, and Nick Martin, friend from side project Isles and Glaciers. They went ahead and put together D.R.U.G.S. and a self-titled album. All’s well that ends well.
Sort of. D.R.U.G.S, which stands for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, put together a reasonable and harmless collection of post-hardcore cliches, blessed by Craig’s vocal prowess and some pop hooks not seen since…well, Bone Palace Ballet. it’s not that this album is poor, as the hardcore genre was never one to drastically reinvent the wheel. We have suitably titled songs (“Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm” and “Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups” to name a few) and an irregularly jarring lack of focus on strong guitar lines. We have no guitar solos (no surprise) and a cohesive lack of weaving guitar parts that were prominent in early Chiodos records and even From First to Last’s material. The band absolutely relies on Craig’s vocal ability, witnessed most notably in songs like “Sex Life,” and “The Only Thing You Talk About.” Their latter is a sort of sweeping hook-friendly piece that is as pop-friendly as it is heavy.
I am not quite sure what D.R.U.G.S. are trying to accomplish here. They have a strong vocalist with quite a formidable fanbase willing to follow him into any new project, and of course the talents of the band to craft a nice little mix of pop allure and moderately heavy breakdowns (for a band in this genre, anyways). But even with the members involved, the album comes out a bit stale, tired, a steadfast record that will appease the fans of Chiodos who find them essentially dead, and the kids who dig the sensibilities of modern post-hardcore. But for most, this won’t break ground. For a man who is in 3-4 simultaneous bands or music projects, it’s interesting to see this one so transparent. The booming chorus’ are there. The shattering vocal lines are there, sparingly, and the goofy titles and lyrical innuendos are well intact, but the record comes out with a big “Big Deal.” it’s a solid record that’s catchy enough to stick long enough, but don’t expect it to hit for some everlasting classic appeal.
And we shouldn’t expect it too. I am happy to inform fans that this album is worth a listen, a nice introduction to a new Craig, the master of side projects, who is bound to use this to begin a new musical endeavor. In the meantime, D.R.U.G.S. will have to do.
Ryan Merkel is a journalist, photographer, and head editor of CultureTease. He is always looking to meet and engage with people. Say hello, message for band inquiries, and enjoy the website: it's all about loving music and informing you of entertainment and music culture in little bite sized nuggets. Culturetease@gmail.com