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The Devil And God
The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me: Retrospective Album Review
As I progress through my life I find myself continuously coming back to a handful of albums I discovered in my early teens. It has been argued that the interests you delve into during your teen years stick with you for the remainder of your adulthood. Truth be told, despite not being an adult just yet, I have become fully aware that some of the music I listened to as a teen is simply always going to have a place in my heart. One of the most influential albums that has shaped me as a person has to be Brand New’s The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. This album is Alt. Rock band Brand New’s third studio album and set a different set of standards and reshaped quote-on-quote “emo” music. The band’s debut and sophomore albums are known to be more angsty and loud with a slightly more punk rock feel to them. Contrasting these albums is The Devil and God… an album that can be described as soulless and haunting. This album takes your through a series of different emotions, encapsulating each and every one of them, demanding them to be felt.
Track By Track:
The album begins on a striking and somewhat somber note with opening track “Sowing Season (Yeah)”. The very first line of the album reads, “Was losing all my friends, was losing them to drinking and to driving.” As a melancholy guitar plays in the background. The song slowly progresses for the first minute and then the instrumentals grow louder and louder as the drums join until the song breaks into chaos.
The second song on the album is titled “Millstone” which begins on drawn out instrumentals, also setting a gloomy tone. The delivery of the lyrics throughout this track and quite honestly, the album as a whole further establishing the solemn undertones of the album. This song is arguably one of the top songs on this album. Both the instrumentals and lyricism blend almost seamlessly creating a memorable and meaningful song. Within the 4:17 minute duration of the song there is an equal amount of lower, quieter moments allowing for a contemplative mood, along with louder, cacophonous moments adding to the hurt and angst. Some of the songs most memorable lyrics have to be
The third song of the album is titled “Jesus Christ” which critics have argued might be one of the most haunting and somber songs in the alternative/emo music genre. I have to say, I do agree with this statement. This song is a very quiet song and does not gradually build to chaos unlike most songs on this album, it stays melodic entirely throughout. This track focuses on love, life, and ultimately, the afterlife. The lyrics encompass what it is like to question one’s existence and where one goes after death. The questions, however, are stated in a haunting tone almost as if the speaker is contemplating suicide. The speaker states, “Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die but I’m a little bit scared of what comes after.” and “And I will die all alone”.
“Degausser” is the fourth track of the album and continues on with the somber undertones of the album. This track touches on the themes of love and more specifically the “magnetic” feeling being in love can cause which can ultimately lead to frustration with oneself. The chorus highlights overthinking that is likely to happen in a relationship by saying “I can’t shake this little feeling. I never say anything right. I’m on my own” almost directly followed by one of the most memorable lyrics of the song, “I love you so much that it hurts my head” truly encompassing the mood of the song all supported by loud, harsh, instrumentals.
“Limousine” is a haunting track which follows the true story of a seven year old girl who is killed in a car accident on her way to serve as the flower girl in her aunt’s wedding. The collision was caused by a drunk driver whom was 3 times over the legal limit at the time of the accident. The girl was killed on sight along with the limo driver. Her last words to her father right before they were struck were “Daddy, this is the best day of my life.” This song absolutely adopts the heart-wrenching tone of this tragedy. The song begins with nothing but slow, melodic, acoustic guitar and vocals. The song continues this way for the first verse, and the drums join in for the second verse as the song picks up. However, there is a shift in the third verse, a somewhat lighthearted and brighter tone is introduced as the perspective of the man who caused the accident. He is being convicted of his crime to which the speaker says “‘I died for you one time but never again,’” In reference to Jesus not forgiving his sin. This “never again” continues in the background very faintly as the song goes into the final verse. There is no chorus or hook or true structure to this song which makes it that much more impactful.
“You Won’t Know” is the halfway point of the album and one of my personal favorites that I believe to be underrated. This track eventually allows the album to pick up after such a somber and heart-wrenching song. The beginning, however, begins very isolated with one guitar on a loop and distant vocals much like every other song on this album. The lyrical content of this song is by no means light but the instrumentation of it is slightly brighter once the second verse hits. This song focuses on the aftermath of death but in a different light to previously mentioned “Jesus Christ”, this song focuses on the other perspective as the speaker mentions all the things his loved ones wouldn’t know if he were to die suddenly both things he wanted to say while on Earth and updates to give from the afterlife. The song ends with a repetition of “you won’t know” over the same looped guitar, adding to the haunting and soulless themes of the album.
“Welcome To Bangkok” serves as an interlude to the album and has virtually no lyrics. Despite this, it is still slightly over three minutes and does not disappoint. The song obviously highlights the instrumentals of the band and their ability to truly paint an image and continue to play on the themes of the album with no words. The instrumentals become more and more distorted as the song progresses and allows the listener to create their own story for the song.
“Not The Sun” begins with an “up the scale” guitar riff followed by the rest of the band’s instrumentation for a slightly more upbeat and bright tune. The subject matter, to no surprise, however, is not very bright. This song is based upon a couple who simply does not see eye to eye anymore and the song essentially formatted to be the confrontation or argument of the two. One line reads, “Say you’re my friends but why won’t you be my family?” referring to a marriage proposal and questioning why she will not take the next step with him. Her response: “you’ve set on me but you are not the sun”, she is comfortable with him but he is not the light of her life how she is for him.
“Luca” is a track influenced by Luca Brasi from The Godfather and ultimately, his death. Luca was by no means a man with good morals. This song follows frontman Jesse Lacey’s internal struggles with his morality and religion. Lacey reflects on his actions seeking answers within religion as he feels hopeless. As he sings “Please drop me a line with a hook and some raw bleeding bait for I am uncaught and still swimming alone in the lake.” Lacey does a great job at conveying a guilty and pleading tone. This track, I believe, is a weaker moment within the album and less memorable but still follows the themes of the album quite well.
“Untitled” is a very straight forward song as it has one lyric repeated 24 times for the entire song. “I can never lose it” is a simple phrase and leaves this song open to many different interpretations. The listener can take this and apply it to whatever they deem fit in that moment. Considering the simplicity of the lyrics and instrumentation as well, this song almost serves as an interlude. “Untitled” works well cohesively with the album but is not a stand-alone track.
“Archers” also referred to as “The Archers’ Bows Have Broken” focuses on Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. More specifically, Lacey is calling out those who claim to follow God’s word yet practice hate. This track is the most upbeat song on the album. There is no lonely guitar or somber, isolated vocals. The song almost has a sing-along vibe to it from the very start. It possesses a good amount of poppier fundamentals which can in turn make it stand out from the album’s overarching tones. Inarguably, this song is a blast to shout along with but I believe would have served better as a single.
“Handcuffs” is the closing track of the album. This track closes the album by discussing societal morality and how people conceal their flaws in an effort to seem “good”. The song begins with the lyrics, “I’d arrest you if I had handcuffs. I’d arrest you if I had the time. I’d throw you down in the backseat, as if you’d committed a terrible crime.” There is an emphasis on “as if” which plays on the idea that there is no true conviction considering the crime at hand is a moral crime. Everyone’s morals are different, who is to say who is wrong? “It’s hard to be the better man” is repeated throughout the song which instills the sense of guilt and contemplation. This closing track leaves them album on a reflective yet empty feeling. Where do our morals stand as a society? Are society’s interpretation of good moral character skewed?
All in all, I give this album a very high 9/10. This album has heavily influenced me and my life. I discovered this album freshman year of highschool through a friend and there could have not been a better time for me to be blessed by this record. At one of the lowest points in my life, this album allowed me to feel. I felt every single emotion through this album at a time when I felt truly numb to everything. Certain bits and pieces can be interpreted in many ways which makes this album so special. Listeners can take what applies to their situation and run with it. Yes, this album is undoubtedly depressing. However, it is not sappy. As aforementioned, this album provided a new foundation for the emo genre. This album is not a “boohoo I’m sad” album. There is depth, thought, cohesion, and storytelling in this album. The Devil And God… does not solely focus on sadness either. There are a series of emotions that are discussed and are felt by every single human. I truly do believe everyone can find at least one section of this album that they can truly enjoy and relate to even if the genre or tones are not your cup of tea. Brand New created a masterpiece that I owe much of my emotional healing to.