One of the perks of reviewing things for a living is having the privilege to hear new music well in advance of a scheduled release date. There’s a certain thrill that comes with seeing an album that you’ve already pre-ordered, that you’ve been anxiously anticipating and waiting to devour, suddenly drop right into your inbox.
However, along with that privilege comes the tacit assumption that as a reviewer, you won’t be a complete dick and leak an unreleased record into the grubby, pirate-ready hands of the internet.
Unfortunately for former Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato, the release of his long-awaited solo project, Child Solider: Creator of God, has become an exception to that unspoken rule, with a full copy of the album making its way into the dark corners of the web three weeks ahead of schedule.
Attempting to take power back from an unquestionably awful situation, Puciato decided to release CS: COG in full on Bandcamp with other streaming platforms to follow shortly after, saying in a statement through his label, Federal Prisoner: “What we [are] doing is using it as an example of how to be adaptable and flexible and roll with the punches. … Shit happens, and you gotta move quick to adapt. I don’t mind a little chaos.”
Listening to CS: COG with that statement in mind, it’s clear that the frontman and multi-instrumentalist is more than adept at harnessing the creative wellspring that comes from a little inner turmoil. If a prospective listener required one expectation to be set before diving headfirst into the album, it would be this: embrace uncertainty, and enjoy the ride. With 15 tracks and over an hour of music on display, CS: COG is an album that boldly encapsulates the sonic breadth and versatility of Puciato’s career as an artist.
Opener “Heaven of Stone” acts as a soft palette cleanser with light, acoustic strumming accompanied by Puciato’s delicate croon. This sense of tranquillity is then abruptly halted by the arrival of the eponymic “Creator of God,” where ambient, industrial textures are slowly churned to dust by waves of nauseating feedback. And, as the record continues, the sonic twists and turns just keep on coming.
At times, things get fiery and familiar (“Fire For Water,” “Deep Set,” “Roach Hiss”), with caustic punk rhythms, snarling vocals, and heavy doses of noise rock brought to life by Puciato’s captivating swagger. Think Dillinger covering Unsane or Nirvana, and you’re on the right track. Elsewhere, Puciato also draws heavily from his work in The Black Queen (“A Pair of Questions,” “Fireflies,” “Temporary Object”), weaving gorgeous synth layers, ’80s guitar solos, and sublime melodies into shimmering, post-punk pop.
The thick riffage of “Do You Need Me to Remind You?” sounds like a death march to oblivion, as Puciato turns a triumphant chorus into a six-minute, alt-metal banger. “Down When I’m Not” is an up-tempo, indie cut in the vein of Dinosaur Jr., while “Heartfree” and “You Know I Do” let Puciato swoon away on more extended, slow-burn compositions.
Closer “September City” starts as a sombre, moody ballad before building and bursting into an epic finale complemented by a powerful, massive crescendo.
On paper, CS: COG is a total grab-bag of genres and sounds that really shouldn’t work as a cohesive whole. And yet, it absolutely does—with very little dead weight. With Puciato at the vocal and instrumental helm alongside producer Nick Rowe and a slew of guest percussionists, including Chris Hornbrook (Poison The Well), Chris Pennie (ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan, Coheed and Cambria), and Ben Koller (Converge, Killer Be Killed), there’s more than enough creative vision here to keep the diversity on offer focused and purposeful.
Stream or purchase Child Soldier: Creator of God here.