Album Review - Chotto Ghetto - WILDFIRE

Chotto Ghetto delivers a challenging, fun concept album on their latest release.
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In their 14 years together, Chotto Ghetto has been compared to the likes of Bad Brains, Faith No More and The Mars Volta. With such a diverse range of influences, it's no surprise that their third (and latest) album, WILDFIRE, is a challenging, yet fun listen that combines numerous different styles and forces the listener to think.

WILDFIRE is a concept album about a found black box recording and science experiments gone awry. Several tracks include voiceovers with actors delivering the storyline while some tracks are purely news clips. The record is political and covers topics as wide ranging as liberals versus conservatives, climate change, Viagra and the tap water in Flint, Michigan. While there is a sense of urgency and paranoia in many of the songs, the band's tongues seem to be planted firmly in cheek here as well, helping to bring a sense of fun to what could have otherwise been a glum recording.

The album begins with "Debrief," which, as its title implies, is a simulated military debriefing about Project Wildfire. Any record that begins this way is bound to be fun, regardless of the topics it may tackle and WILDFIRE is no different. "Multiversal Receiver" follows and mixes big power chords with wah-drenched, funky rhythm parts. The song is heavy, yet melodic and showcases some killer drumming from Jody Giachello and voiceovers about the album's story.

On "New Horror," singer Chris Candy delivers a powerful, yet distant vocal, accompanied only by guitar until the band kicks in for the song's melodic chorus. "The Work" is a challenging track with many voiceovers and a paranoid vocal from Candy. It delivers a funky rhythm and drum part, showcasing the band's considerable chops. The song, like many on the album, has a lot going on sonically and really challenges the listener to experience it all.

Several tracks, such as "Unstable Isotopes," "Gemini Croquette," and "HIRO AI" feature news clips and voiceovers set to music. These help further the album's story and present the message of the record. The group takes a mellower turn on "The Odd Man" and "Like Old Times," with a twist, however. The former includes a creepy sounding group vocal while the latter is a piano ballad with a vocal that borders on manic and melodic with a big chorus at the end. The album closes with "Charlie Cluster 8," an Intense, heavy track with a powerful vocal and many musical twists.

On WILDFIRE, Chotto Ghetto has delivered an album that is at once challenging and accessible. Filled with excellent musicianship and thought provoking lyrics, the group treats the listener to an album that requires multiple listenings to digest it all. The rewards are plenty for those willing to devote the time.

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