The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
Brand New, often regarded as the last saving grace of emo in today's musical landscape, had huge shoes to fill with their third studio album in the wake of their 2003 masterpiece Deja Entendu. Throngs of devoted followers anticipated their most recent release The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me with high expectations. However, it can be almost guaranteed that no one expected that this new release could very well be even better than their past work.
Calling this album an alternative rock masterpiece is an incredible understatement; it pales nearly every release that has come out of the pop-punk genre for the past three years. However, what is truly captivating about the album is not how it compares with other releases, but the growth that so obviously has taken place within the band itself.
Where Brand New used to suffer under their own rage with messy and aggressive song structures, they have now grown up to address their problems in what seems to be a more mature way. The album is filled with the sadness and angst that fans crave as personal therapy, but attempts to convey their message in more concise and experimental songs. The opening track “Sowing Season (Yeah)” is clear evidence of this as singer Jesse Lacey begins the first minute of the album with quietly sung vocals followed by a lonesome acoustic guitar before the straining wails that he is know for rally themselves into the scene. What is always impressive is how Lacey incorporates his high-energy screaming into his standard singing style without letting it become a predictable and obnoxious staple to their music. He knows when it's necessary and how it's supposed to be done, which is more than can be said for most bands nowadays who rely on screaming as filler in between lyrics.
However, fans of Brand New's aggressive side have slim pickings this time around. Roughly only four of the twelve tracks feature the upbeat angst found largely on their past releases, and when it does appear throughout the album, it is done with a much more polished style as on “Not the Sun” that finds Lacey experimenting with a playful falsetto entwined with soaring vocals. “The Archer's Bows Have Broken” is a prime testament to Brand New's maturity, taking their frantic song structures and keeping them organized and never overwhelming. A complex (and impressive) drumbeat takes center stage except during the bridge where a screeching guitar takes the reigns and drives this song to heights of extreme exception that Brand New has rarely gone before.
As mentioned before, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is largely a piece of quiet brooding that due to Brand New's willingness to experiment, never becomes stale or dried out. “Jesus Christ” is hypnotizing and beautiful, showing a rare sensitivity and vulnerability that has been tapped into only a few times in songs like “Soco Amaretto Lime” and “The No Seatbelt Song” from Your Favorite Weapon. The album ends with the hauntingly delicate “Handcuffs” that echoes thoughts of self-destruction with lamenting violins and a groaning cello.
As the last string is plucked on an acoustic guitar, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me ends just how it began, with empty space filled only with Lacey's melancholy voice. And while the album as a whole shows great growth in Brand New's arsenal of musical tricks, the end result may feel just slightly uneven. Brand New is known to be thought-provoking, but they are also known to be fun, and the latter element is definitely missing from this album. Whereas “Mix Tape” and “Last Chance to Lose Your Keys” showed a playful side to the band on Your Favorite Weapon, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me feels as though the band is taking everything too seriously. However, no matter how serious and undeniably dark the album may be, each song still shines with a luster of accomplishment that could only be obtained by a band who recognizes and acts on the potential they have to make consistently effective music.
Release date: November 21, 2006
Rating: 9.1 / 10
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