Upon first hearing of ’68 in May, I quickly found that many fans liked the rock duo because of its relation to the now-disbanded metalcore act The Chariot. The band’s sophomore effort, Two Parts Viper, was released on June 2nd, and has quickly become a summery favorite of mine. Fans of The Chariot and unrelated groups alike will find the record to be a very satisfactory mix of aggressive vocals and abrasive instrumentation that stands out from the band’s contemporaries in the hardcore scene.
What stood out the most to me while listening to Two Parts Viper was the range of delivery techniques used by guitarist and vocalist Josh Scogin. On tracks like opener “Eventually We All Win” and “Whether Terrified Or Unafraid,” Scogin shouts over verses and hooks in an equally vigorous manner. On the closing track “What More Can I Say,” he sounds like he’s about to burst into tears, similar to Corey Taylor on Slipknot’s self-titled debut. Rolling folk-rock tunes and melancholic ballads like “Without Any Words (Only Crying And Laughter)” and “No Montage” see Scogin sing very emotionally, as it’s very easy to hear the inflections in his voice. In “The Workers Are Few,” one of my favorite tracks on the album, it’s tough to tell whether Scogin is singing or shouting, or somewhere in between. Overall, the variety of techniques that Scogin uses quickly pulled me in and made me question the what next song would hold.
Beyond what Scogin produced with his voice, ’68 and producer Matt Goldman have created a corrosive, grungy sound that omits the use of aggressive tempos and clean-unclean dynamics that other hardcore-rooted bands like Defeater or Every Time I Die rely on. Scogin frequently sounds like his voice is being recorded through a PA system your grade school might have had, while being forced up right against the mic. Drummer Michael McClellan goes from playing catchy blast beats to nothing at all, and further disorients the listener with off-time fills and transitions. Audio samples and electronic effects are used very liberally throughout the record, and often without any rhythmic backing. Aside from Scogin’s being a founder of The Chariot, this chaotic and confusing sound may be one of the closest ties between his two bands.
Having not listened to ’68 nor The Chariot before this record, the 32-minute onslaught that is Two Parts Viper hooked me and has me anxiously awaiting the duo’s next stateside tour. Fans of groups like Every Time I Die, Underoath and The Devil Wears Prada will find the album’s vocals to be very familiar-sounding, but they will also quickly realize that the underlying sound distinguishes ’68 from those artists.
Listen to: “No Montage,” “The Workers Are Few”