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CD Review: CHIODOS – Bone Palace Ballet

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chiodos bonepalaceballetChiodos isn't the only band these days bridging Queen and Hot Topic. Between the Buried and Me, The Fall of Troy, and Circa Survive all paint with technicolor brushes on perpetually stylish hoodies. But Chiodos' contrasts are the most startling: metallic arpeggios, metalcore breakdowns, bouncy pop, piano ballads. Queen got there first, of course, with "Bohemian Rhapsody." That Frankenstein of a song was a huge chart-topper, but likely wouldn't crack today's tightly formatted Top 40.

Yet Bone Palace Ballet debuted at #5 in the Billboard 200. Chiodos are onto something – that is, everything. The band's sound spans metal, metalcore, emo, prog, and indie rock. Amazingly, the band is equally fluent all around. A PR firm couldn't construct a better ad campaign across multiple demographics.

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Yet Chiodos' fusion isn't a watered-down compromise. Craigery Owens' angelic vocals are a big reason why. They're startlingly androgynous, and probably a tough pill to swallow for metalheads accustomed to death growls (power metal fans, however, should have no problem with castrati vocals). Owens' singing rides the cusp between male and female, and child and adult. It's a direct challenge to those who identify themselves with simple categories.

This tension fueled Chiodos' debut album, All's Well That Ends Well. Here were kids playing adults' music, yet skilled enough to thumb their noses at elders. Cheap keyboards squeaked out pompous drama; practice amped guitars simulated epic Eurometal. A raw, lively mix captured a bunch of instrumental geniuses seemingly mid-garage jam. They reached for the stars, couldn't quite get there, and sounded all the more fun for it.

On Bone Palace Ballet, they've grown up. The performances are surgically precise, and the songwriting is airtight. The production is clear, compressed, and technically flawless. The budget is higher than before. Now the band can afford real strings and horns. It hasn't gone Green Day; the cellos of "Teeth the Size of Piano Keys" sit among churning guitars and temper tantrum screaming. Yet the string intro of "Life is a Perception of Your Own Reality" sounds oddly adult. Even when muscular indie pop steamrolls it, one can't help but feel that the band's innocence is gone (its juvenile song titles remain intact, however).

Overall, this isn't a problem. Boys must become men. Perhaps it was inevitable that Chiodos would write a soaring Taking Back Sunday-slayer like "Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered." But the song is so bulletproof and professional, it's scary. This no longer the band that played your club and slept on your floor. Now you'll have to pay unconscionable Ticketmaster fees and see, hear, and feel them from a distance.

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Chiodos on MySpace
Equal Vision Records

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