Every metal-head has their watershed moment; whether that’s Master of Puppets, Symbolic or actually Watershed, that magic album taps you on the shoulder and says “young poser, let me show you the way to trveness.” After growing disinterested with the same six bands I was exposed to growing up (you can probably list them), I was on my way out of metaldom entirely… until I heard Come Clarity by In Flames. I know, it’s borderline butt metal, but it was exactly what I needed to smash the thrash barrier into extreme vocals and complex instrumentation. Like so many of you, I wouldn’t be the metal-head I am today without that moment. So when Chariots of the Gods bills itself as melodic metal with In Flames as its top influence, I’m cautious yet optimistic. I know there’s some bad there, but there’s definitely some good. Which brand of In Flames did I get: hooky melodic exploration or messy dreadlocked drivel?

Neither, as it happens. While 2013’s Tides of War introduced Chariots of the Gods as a thrashier cut of metalcore, Ages Unsung expounds upon that style with a newfound melodic stance that skirts the boundaries of metalcore and melodic death. Second-slated “Tusk” lands Chariots on metal’s shores but ensures its metalcore cred remains firmly intact, invoking Trivium or Orpheus Omega before In Flames ever comes to mind. Twin guitar work builds a thumping drum-and-chug intro into fiery riffs replete with standard metalcore pinch harmonics before a sublime solo caps the track. Rounded out with aggressive screams and foot-stomping rhythms, “Tusk” suggests Chariots possess the individual components for a successful album. Yet with less production to prop themselves up and no keyboard to anchor the melody, they lack the ensnaring passages and trademark hooks that stay stuck in your head for days.

“Tusk” is fairly indicative of Ages Unsung as a whole, matching good-but-not-great riffs with melodies that are just effective enough to get your head bopping. Unfortunately, the album’s success is restricted by that missing killer hookiness. The lack of variety in the melodic progression and song direction make Ages prone to repetition. Additionally, faulty track placement and meandering detours compound the record’s problems. After dragging through too long opener “Primordial Dawn,” and following up “Tusk” with the dawdling “Of Prometheus and the Sacred Flame” I was left checking my watch. Promising opens to “As the Sky Falls” and “Resurrection” tease album-defining moments but wedge in down-tempo cleans and breakdowns that derail their momentum. “Through Darkness and Decay” made me double take at my computer screen, convincing me that a different act stepped on-stage. A head-scratching hard rock ballad worthy of Nickelback (or dare I say X-Method?), not even one of the strongest solos on the album can save this one.

Chariots of the Gods - Ages Unsung 02

Chariots are at their best with all guns blazing, with “New World” and “Into Oblivion” providing the purest enjoyment on Ages Unsung. The former delivers on all of Chariots’ promise as it pins its ears back and blasts from a focused piano intro into the full package, featuring the best hooks and riffs on the spin. Lead axeman Mathieu St-Amour cuts quality solos that stand above the usual fare in both melodeath and metalcore camps, while new mic-handler Chris Therien’s punchy stylings are a welcome upgrade over his predecessor’s hardcore flavors. When he’s on the mark, Therien is reminiscent of Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid; still, he lacks Strid’s aptitude for cleans and his execution wavers over the course of the LP.

Ages Unsung is by no means a bad album. It’s tightly knit and solidly executed within its bounds. The average listener will undoubtedly find a couple of moments that weasel into their brain cavity and bounce around for a day or two. But after that initial earworm period, there is very little that warrants repeat visits. The proposition of uncovering some new tidbit or re-listening to a passage you might have overlooked simply isn’t there. Chariots of the Gods does their damnedest to entertain and ultimately succeed; however, there’s a clear gap between them and their contemporaries. If Chariots want to bridge that divide, they have some work to do.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: chariotsofthegods.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ChariotsoftheGods
Releases Worldwide: September 16th, 2016

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  • brutal_sushi

    With the embedded track I was on board until the cleans hit. There was a lack of power and emotion behind them to make me even care. Also my metal watershed moment was hearing Iced Earth for the first time. No more nu metal and radio rock for this guy after that faithful day!

    • GardensTale

      Oh man I agree on the cleans, they are not good. He sounds like he’s trying not to cry or something.

      Iron Maiden for the watershed moment here, Wildest Dreams to be precise. Including godawful CGI video.

      • Judas Priest’s Heading Out to the Highway video in the early days of MTV for me.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I have a hard time pinpointing my watershed moment. I’m thinking it was probably Ride the Lightning though.

    • Feytalist

      Same here with Iced Earth, man.

      Horror Show, to be precise.

      • brutal_sushi

        The Dark Saga for me. Being a Spawn fan I picked it up on album art alone, after about 4 consecutive spins I went home and ordered my weeks worth of paychecks on Iced Earth and Blind Guardian albums

      • Tofu muncher

        Iced Earth’s Horror Show is a whole of awesome, tho’ it was Iron Maiden’s Number of that did if for me.

    • manimal

      Mine was cruising along the highway nodding my head along to some Miley Cyrus, when the DJ suddenly decided to follow that up with Gnaw Their Tongues and Portal.

      • brutal_sushi

        Hey, nobody’s perfect

    • Sacrifist

      Agree with both the ill-fitting cleans, which could stand either a little rasp or better production, and Iced Earth; Something Wicked was one of my first metal albums, along with Colony, Haven and Burning Bridges. I still like other styles and appreciate talent when I hear it, but metal will always be first in my tiny, black heart..

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    “Which brand of In Flames did I get: hooky melodic exploration or messy dreadlocked drivel?” Frickin’ stung me like a bee.

  • Reese Burns

    Come Clarity ain’t a bad place to start with In Flames, I think it’s actually pretty great. Shame about the rest of their post-2000 material though.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      I might be selling it short, but I don’t think the style has aged well. Nowadays, I’d rather an jaunt through RtR than Come Clarity.

      • Reese Burns

        I guess I’m in the minority, but Come Clarity resonated with me the same way Albums like Whoreacle and Jester Race did, but if on the first listen it didn’t grab you, I doubt going back to it will reveal anything new

        • Dr. Wvrm

          I absolutely loved it at the time, but it’s one of those instances where I spun it 100 times, put it down for a few years, came back and completely failed to see what I liked about it in the first place.

          • Reese Burns

            Well I guess that’s fair enough, haha

          • GardensTale

            I think that’s common for early stage metal, which sounds really complex and innovative coming off of Slipknot and Mudvayne but after years of immersing yourself in metal turns out to be kind of tame and shallow in comparison to some of the really mindblowing shit out there.

      • Feytalist

        Start with Come Clarity, sure, but go back, instead of forward :D

        Colony/Clayman is where it’s at, for me.

    • The Nerd.

      Clayman is amazing. 1 of the albums that lead me to extreme metal.

  • When I hear unimaginative derivative stuff like this that sounds like 1000 other bands, I am convinced North Korea has perfected a metalcore/nu-metal/melodeath song writing robot that churns this stuff out like the latest K-Pop sensation. This is soulless, repetitive music, that shows absolutely no imagination. 2.5 / 5 is KIND!!!!!

  • Norfair Legend

    Tides of War was fantastic, this album is decent but definitely lost a little something in between albums. Your assertion here is exactly the way i feel.

  • Feytalist

    Okay, i have to ask… what the hell is butt metal? 0_o

    • manimal

      Cross-referencing Egyptian coffin spells with De Sade’s body of work, I can reveal that it refers to metal that has a glib, superficial charm… that quickly proceeds to tell you how much it loves you, then proceeds to have… some kind of… congress… with you… but then technically still leave you a virgin, in the interesting of, y’know, respecting you.

      • Dr. Wvrm

        I like this better than anything I could come up with. This is the real answer.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    No justice for the sphere in 2016

  • themetalyears

    I still dig the title track from Come Clarity.

    • Grymm

      One of my favorite ballads, actually.

  • Bas

    Never had such a watershed moment, just got used gradually to more extreme stuff.. Not sure which album with death vocals i got first, Either: Focus , Indiv. Thought Patterns or Heartwork…

    • Reese Burns

      Yeah, for me there was no one album that grabbed me. Over time I just sorta gravitated to black metal, and from there death metal.

      • Bas

        For me first death metal, only a lot later black metal.. Tipping point there was a concert (infernal majesty) where the opening band was black metal: Dark Funeral. i bought the introduction to the black arts cd, but never enjoyed it as much as the concert. Only year later i got into other bands such as Darkthrone (i still like the less black albums more than their first ones..)

  • Lord Miklite

    My moment of transition from metalcore and the like was probably Insomnium. I think it was Through the Shadow off of One For Sorrow. I soon found that Above the Weeping World was a lot better, but that’s another story.

  • Hammersmith

    Watershed mentioned.. no no, let it go. No need to get into it now.

  • themetalyears

    Watershed moment…I was 13. Up until that point we’d been weaned on Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, skate punk…then suddenly a buddy of mine showed up with a white cassette in his hand. He popped it into the player and said, “This is relaxing music,” as the first chords from Battery played. That, my friends, is the day I pledged my allegiance to metal.

  • The Unicorn

    Nice cane, y’old geezer.

  • By-tor

    Saw In Flames live on the Reroute tour. They fucking crushed. Awesome live band. Melodeath will always be a close second to thrash in my crusty black heart.

    Watershed moment for me, Blackwater Park. Pushed me from a Iron Maiden + Big 4/punk guy into “darker” territory. No way I’m listening to Emperor, Cattle Decapitation, or Bolt Thrower without that album.

    • Reese Burns

      Blackwater Park is a landmark album, it can open people up to all sorts of genres, just because of all the different flavours it has.

  • Jeff Kent

    The band photo makes them look like the Mumford & Sons of Metal.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Reminded me of In Flames quite a bit, too. Kinda their later period when they weren’t quite as innovative.

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    The embedded track is forgettable. And! the video is the most incredible waste of bandwidth known to man. What the hell were they thinking?.. “man, it would really increase our metal cred to have a wobbly album cover – wobbling! – for five mintues to distract for our derivative and often lacklustre song”

    Watershed: Emperors Return EP. Master of Puppets was a gateway drug, but it was with Celtic Frost when things got serious.

  • Suspenders metal.