The first time I saw the Chariot play, it was more like witnessing a natural disaster than watching a band play music. There was something so beautiful and frightening about it, so wild and uninhibited. They were feral. They played music like a tornado, and the crowd responded like one. The level of energy they had was unlike anything I’d ever seen before and was much more than I could have prepared or hoped for. Within the first seconds of their set, half the band was in the crowd and half the crowd was scrambling to stay afoot. I remember watching someone on stage throw one of the floor toms into the crowd, it hitting someone in the head, and them stumbling to the back of the venue in a dizzied and bloody state. A quick YouTube search will show you more than I could ever write. Their music was more cathartic release than melody, and their performance was more acrobatic than articulate. It was all so new and so confusing, but when witnessing them I felt something primal rise up in me. By the end of the show, one thing was clear: I wanted to chase that feeling.
To say that The Chariot revolutionized heavy music for me would be a severe understatement. For me, they embodied everything chaotic and artistic in the worlds of punk, hardcore, and metal. They were a freight train of sound and creativity, and they really did change what I thought could and couldn’t be done in music. They were heavy, yes, but it was art. Real art. They used guitar feedback in a way I’d never heard before. They used sound clips in almost comically contrasted ways. They stripped song structures down to nothing and scrambled them around to create tracks that were as spontaneous as they were jarring. It was hard to follow, and harder to replicate. No one could do it the way they did. It was music that was meant to be performed live, and preformed with intensity that no one else could match. I didn’t understand the Chariot until I saw them live, and after that I could never forget them. The music wasn’t about comfort, it was about breaking boundaries. At the risk of sounding cliché and possibly corny, it really represented freedom.
Growing up, I was shy and reserved. There was much more going on in my head than I let on, and for a long time the same applied to my creative endeavors. I had been dabbling in metal-core and hard rock, and expanding my music taste to the realms of angry music, but nothing I’d consider a real transformation. There was something I liked about heavy music, but I never understood quite what it was until I listened to The Chariot. It was then that I figured it out: It was cutting loose to the fullest extent, letting out pent up emotions and creating art with the most animalistic intentions. It was so far away from my shy self, but so much of what I was feeling and what I hoped to be. In a way, it seemed like being my truest self. Their music was confident and free, without the ropes of structure and genre norms holding it down. When I saw/listened to them for the first time, I remember thinking, “Whatever I do, I want to do it with that intensity.”
Long Live was the first album I bought from them, and is still my favorite to this day. I remember walking into an F.Y.E in my local New Jersey mall and talking ten bucks I had from my terrible retail job to buy their CD, but it was worth every penny. It stretched my music taste into new territories, and changed how I thought about music in general. It influenced me with my own music, my own writing, my style, my friends, and even my perspective on life. It definitely pushed me to take more risks and cut loose, to get rid of the stuff that’s bogging me down and to let it out in some form of expression. The Chariot was also one of the first bands I got to talk to and have several in depth conversations with, and they were the nicest guys. There was something so light-hearted to them that defied all the chaos in their music and in their performance. I felt important when they talked to me, not like a scared little kid who wasn’t cool enough to fit in at a punk show. In many ways, they were my role models for most of my high school and college years and I honestly don’t think I’d be who I am today without them.
There will never be another band like them. Long live The Chariot.