Published Jun 15, 2016Two years on from signing and eventually exiting a $1.8 million dollar, five-album mega-deal with Sony, it could be said that Unlocking the Truth are recognized more for their viral Times Square busking sessions and subsequent battle against the music industry than their actual songcraft.
As such, the release of full-length Chaos is a triumph for the now-teenage trio of Malcolm Brickhouse, Alec Atkins and Jarad Dawkins, as it successfully puts their major label journey of mismanagement to rest — before they graduate from high school, no less.
Built from newer material and five songs that were written for an EP shelved by Sony earlier in their budding career, moments of Chaos could have listeners in disbelief that a trio their age could have written the music in question, while others sound more in line with your buddy's basement metal band.
Punchy riffing driven from the lower strings risks becoming same-y (especially when the majority of the songs stick within one key), and while lyrics concerning topics of love, pain, hatred and hope are pointed and delivered in a genuine fashion, some of these songs don't feel as fully fleshed-out as they could be.
Yet, there's some impressive writing and arranging from the group that demonstrates noticeable growth. Tempo changes make the burly riffing of "Escape" and "Monster" even more engaging, while the band's welcome attention to melody is displayed through vocal harmonies in "Numbing" and "Made of Stone." Rollicking closer "Take Control" even features Brickhouse delivering lyrics in a nu metal-esque rap flow, a fad that had come and gone before he was even born.
These aren't stinging faults that will hinder the band so much as elements that will continue to improve with further experience, and the trio themselves would be the first to tell you that. Vocalist/guitarist Brickhouse, already quite mature beyond his 15 years, told Exclaim! that he feels growing older will make for stronger writing as the band's chief lyricist.
At its best, Chaos proves that Unlocking the Truth are more than an internet gimmick. And unlike the multitude other music stars whose careers were kickstarted through virality, a demonstrated drive and proven ability to continuously better themselves as musicians means their potential remains fairly limitless. (Tunecore)