“This war will tear apart the sky,” Brando Bolmer warns you on the seventh track, “His Story Repeats Itself,” of Chiodos’ newest, Illuminadio. The entire album paints a scene of a bleak battlefield, with Bolmer’s cries rallying the troops, and Tanner Wayne’s drumming, a relentless artillery barrage that brings the boom to guitarists Jason Hale and Pat McManaman’s bang. Occasionally the action pauses to allow Bolmer to tensely creep to Bradley Bell’s subtly ominous keyboard effects, wielding bitter poetry like a glinting dagger, before exploding into raging screams an inch from your face.
The sound is definitely on the front lines here, but the lyrics offer some excellent air support, including themes of hidden love to bitter regrets and vengeance, with some sinister and unnerving lines warning “the wolves that you have cried will eat you alive” on “Modern Wolf Hair.” Bolmer’s range extends from savage hollering you’ll want to shout along with to an apologetic whisper.
While the keyboard effects are excellent, the pure piano tone Bell sometimes utilizes seems out of place. Most likely used to lend an even greater immediacy to the already compellingly frantic guitars and drums, the sounds instead serve to slightly compromise the efforts of the remaining musicians and brighten the mood. When isolated, the finger dancing nearly resembles a scorned Vanessa Carlton; thankfully, it’s few and far between, and lyrics switch off the lights once more.
While Illuminadio gets a bit repetitive, especially towards the end, clocking in at 47 minutes and 11 tracks long, this is easily forgiven. Though it sounds like a war, listening to it is no battle. The album rarely feels bloated and consistently demands your undivided listening attention. You’ll be more than eager to surrender it for such a well developed experience.