Whether in the progressive hardcore of The Dillinger Escape Plan, the introspective and soulful electronic modes of The Black Queen, or the powerful heavy metal of Killer Be Killed, Greg Puciato has demonstrated numerous attributes that have made him one of this generation’s greatest front men. Now, he puts forth all of his musical skills on Child Soldier: Creator of God, an album in which he exhibits a kind of artistic freedom that many can only wish for or will not even allow for themselves; the seemingly effortless shifts in genre, not just between but also within these 15 tracks, can be jarring and make for a challenging listening experience… but the results are simply breathtaking!
For instance, after the pensive and introspective acoustic opener of “Heaven of Stone,” the de facto title track “Creator of God” launches into a blistering array of distorted beats and noises, creating an industrialized soundscape upon which Puciato’s soulful vocal harmonies are simply to die for. Certain tracks lean more toward a distinct electronic vibe akin to The Black Queen, such as “Temporary Object” and “A Pair of Questions” with their passages of ambient synths and vibrant arpeggios, the slower and more offbeat “Fireflies,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a retro-futuristic fever dream, and “Evacuation,” which although beginning with trickling pianos and strident electronic beats and bass, bursts into a chugging of distorted guitars and meditative vocal manipulations, creating a noisy yet melodic bed of post-industrial/rock. Similarly, “Through the Walls” begins as a somber shoegazing acoustic number before frigid walls of swelling pads and pianos gradually give way to a funky R&B ballad, while “Down When I’m Not” is a straightforward ‘90s alternative pop rocker. Other tracks like the rhythmically acerbic “Deep Set” are more virulent, with the guttural hardcore predilections of “Fire For Water” and “Roach Hiss” bearing a slight resemblance to The Dillinger Escape Plan with their sophisticated arrangements of alternating time signatures and intricate chord structures, while “Do You Need Me to Remind You?” is a crown jewel of fiery beauty, Puciato’s layered vocals ascending into a lush maelstrom of emotion, the chorus of “Walk on nails now to pave their roads / Douse your fire, let your heart rate slow” resonating like the incantations of a hypnotic ritual.
With drummers Ben Koller, Christopher Hornbrook, and Chris Pennie, along with guitarist/producer Nick Rowe helping to flesh out the instrumentals, Puciato follows the muse where it takes him, to eclectic musical territories that quite frankly shouldn’t work as well as it does. There is simply no way of categorizing Child Soldier: Creator of God, for as stated, the record moves through varying degrees of stylistic intrigue, moving from hot metallic fury to soulful electronic chill with such fluidity that in the hands of most other artists would disintegrate. Bravo, Greg Puciato, bravo!