Friday, May 27, 2011

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me -- Brand New

Initially, I was hesitant to begin with a review of this album. One should know that I am hesitant to give a 5 star review to anything. I believe that the top rating should not be given out before a large amount of thinking has been done. It should be reserved for the best of the best. That statement is the exact reason why I decided to tackle this review first; It is what all other albums should strive to be.

Brand New is a band that has maintained a consistent evolution from album to album. The consistency within the band is the lyrics. Each and every album has been filled with some of the best lyrics that I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Time after time I find myself hearing a lyric and wishing that I had been the one to write the masterpiece. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is the album in which the band's lyrical prowess meets maturity and the result is amazing.

The underlying theme is simple: Life is not easy. There are hardships. There is loneliness. There is agony. There is uncertainty. No song captures these emotions better than "Jesus".
Well, Jesus Christ, I’m alone again
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
Because this problem's gonna last
More than the weekend
Well, Jesus Christ I’m not scared to die
I’m a little bit scared of what comes after
Jesse Lacey is able to perfectly convey the thoughts of those that are struggling with despair and uncertainty about life and religion. What is truly beautiful about the writing is that he strayed from the mean lyrics that were directed at those that may have wronged him to lyrics that are more focused on his own (and vicariously his listeners') own thoughts and emotions.

Even "Limousine", which was written about a specific event (I encourage you to do research on this song; It makes it all the more powerful), has lyrics to which nearly everyone can relate. In my opinion, the most chilling line ever written comes from the song:
and in the choir I saw our sad Messiah.
He was bored and tired of my laments.
Said, "I died for you one time, but never again
The lyrical content of the album is top-notch, but it does not overshadow the musicianship of the band. I do not think that anyone will argue that Brand New is filled with the most talented musicians, but their writing is impeccable. The band members do not try to do too much with their instruments. Instead, they play what fits the song best. Nothing more. Nothing less.

For the most part, the band focuses heavily on the rhythm section. Look no further than "Not the Sun" for evidence. The song starts off with a driving bass-line and never lets up. This song is highlight of the album as far as drumming is concerned (and also features a perfect transition from 4/4 to 3/4 back to 4/4 time signature switch at the bridge). The guitar work of the album is more impressive in the emotional manner than the technical. The guitar serves to build songs to a climax and then burst in with with a passion-filled solo or to break the silence with harsh distortion. Again, the solos are nothing that are going to impress the most talented guitarists, but they should definitely impress songwriters as a whole. The only thing more passionate than the guitars is the voice of Jesse Lacey. His beautifully written words would be useless without delivery, and his does not disappoint. Every word he sings, he believes. It is evident that for this album he "took apart his head" and bled every word onto the lyric book from his own body.

If one wants to dive into an album that is introspective, they should look no further. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is filled with all the words that I personally could not express on my own. This album lets you know you aren't alone. Everyone has questions. Everyone has hurt.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Genre: Alternative Rock

Recommended tracks:
Entire album

Top Five:
1. Jesus
2. Limousine
3. Millstone
4. Degausser
5. Luca

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