If you found difficulty expressing shock at last week’s news of Chiodos’ demise, you’re not alone. Fans of the Michigan post-hardcore act made peace with the band’s dissolution over a year ago as, one-by-one, the members began stepping away from the wreckage. Craig Owens’ recent statement hardly raised an eyebrow.
In truth, Chiodos’ supposed resurrection with 2014’s Devil felt over before it ever began. Only a few months after the album’s release, bassist Matt Goddard and drummer Derrick Frost parted ways, followed shortly by new guitarist Thomas Erak. An album that felt half-hearted to begin with never gained steam, and instead of the much-anticipated renaissance of one of the scene’s most exciting bands, Chiodos departed with a sigh.
Now, we’re presented with badXchannels, Owens’ latest solo project. One of the most prolific frontmen in recent memory, Owens has shown no shortage in range over the years. From the delicate delivery of Cinematic Sunrise and With Love, his 2009 solo EP, to the raging chaos of Chiodos and D.R.U.G.S., Owens has kept his nose to the grindstone, even making an appearance on last year’s Dr. Dre album, Compton, and a recent track from Kuniva.
To go along with his signature vocal delivery, Owens also possesses a stage presence and confidence that has kept him at the center of the scene’s attention, no matter the genre. His track record would lead you to believe that badXchannels will undoubtedly succeed, even if only to keep his own brand alive and well. This latest iteration of Owens the artist finds him shirtless and veiled by a black ski mask. It’s an odd choice of presentation, but Craig has always had a flair for the dramatic.
His first single, “I. One Car Funeral” finds Owens providing a smoother vocal delivery than we’re accustomed to, atop a pulsing beat. Before deciding whether badXchannels is worthy, quirky cousin to The Weeknd, we’ll need to hear more. For now, it’s an interesting transformation with some obvious potential.
The biggest question leading up to the release of WHYDFML on November 18 is this: even if badXchannels is a hit, will it last? Craig Owens has now parted ways with Chiodos twice, failed to follow up on the fan-adored Cinematic Sunrise, and walked away from projects like D.R.U.G.S., Isles and Glaciers, and even first own solo endeavor after just one release. At this point, many fans of Craig Owens simply want stability.
Owens would likely counter with points about his need for unrestricted creative expression and having no desire to be confined to one box (or band, for that matter). That’s a fair response for any artist. However, at some point, history will decide how the music of Craig Owens is remembered, and it’s wholly possible that the clutter may cloud our memories.
Maybe badXchannels will be a massive success and be the defining moment of Owens’ career. Maybe his best music is still to come. Maybe November 18 will provide more clarity about Owens’ artistic trajectory. Maybe it will provide more questions.
We’re only a few short weeks from finding out.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.