Following years of media excitement, breakouts at Coachella and Bonnaroo, buzzy late-night TV appearances—and more than a few industry-related bumps along the way—the Brooklyn metal trio is finally ready to unleash their debut CD, dubbed (no surprise here) Chaos.
They wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“This hasn’t been a scary time at all,” says Unlocking the Truth’s guitarist/vocalist Malcolm Brickhouse. “This is exciting.”
The basis of Unlocking the Truth was formed in 2007. Comprised of a couple of Brooklyn pre-teen musical prodigies —Brickhouse and Jarad Dawkins, who both roped in their friend Alec Atkins a little later on — the guys were initially inspired by music they heard on shows like WWE Smackdown. The band started hunting down the heavy music soundtrack powering their favorite wrestlers (see: Motorhead/Triple H).
Initially attracting attention via street performances in Times Square and Washington Square Park, the fervor over UTT grew quickly. The band competed on Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Later, the trio became the youngest group to perform at Coachella (“It felt like a portent, as if these adolescents were offering a time-traveled glimpse of Coachella’s future,” noted the Los Angeles Times). They also opened at Bonnaroo and supported the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Living Colour, Guns N’ Roses, Motorhead and Marilyn Manson.
A lot to go through before an album was even released.
But worth the wait. Chaos is better for it, a powerful and, dare say, mature outing. “We’re so much better technically than we were even a few years ago,” says Atkins. “And we’ve had so much experience going into this. You can tell.”
Chaos both nods to the past and embraces the present. Practicing and writing together for the past several years, the band has created a heavy but diverse record: the speed and quick vocals of “Take Control” play nicely off the slower grooves of “Escape,” which features a riff purposely inspired by Metallica. There’s a great throwback vibe to the album’s first single “Monster,” a thrasher that deftly shifts tempo and goes out of its way to highlight a fist-pumping guitar solo by Brickhouse. It also provides the album’s best sing-along moment (“I am a monster!”).
No doubt, the band exudes power. But they’re also decidedly melodic — songs both slow (“Made of Stone”) and fast (“Numbing”) could live comfortably on rock radio.
“It’s interesting, because I have friends who don’t even like metal who dig our stuff,” says Brickhouse, who lists Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour) as a major vocal influence. “I’d say we’re metal influenced, but there are certainly other genres in there as well.”
One thing the album isn’t, interestingly, is chaotic. These guys are tight. There’s a precision here that lends the songs a real potency.
“The title comes from one of our songs,” says Brickhouse. “That song, and the album, is about overcoming a chaotic situation and becoming stronger. Our goal during everything was to focus on the music, and not worry about the industry part.”
For Chaos, the band worked with veteran metal producer Johnny K. “He’s an inspiration of ours, and we’re big fans of his work with Disturbed,” says Dawkins. “We were able to experiment with sounds and get something that fit our mindset.”
While the record had its delays, the band’s early live success allowed them access to some of rock’s biggest names—which in turn has inspired UTT and helped them go a more independent route.
“Marilyn Manson’s been a mentor,” says Dawkins. “He’s helped us figure out what to watch out for. He told us to be brave, have fun and be ourselves. He said if you don’t have fun, you won’t enjoy what you do. And I agree.”
You’ll hopefully catch Unlocking the Truth later this year on tour. “That’s our ultimate goal: to be touring throughout the country and internationally, and making some good music,” says Atkins. “I mean, being in a band is a great experience. Being in a successful band? Even more so.”
Given the circuitous road that led to Chaos, the band seems happy now to chart its own path.
“Over the past few years, I think the biggest lesson we learned is ‘Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself,’” says Dawkins. “We started out not being vocal about what we wanted. But once we made ourselves heard, well, everything’s rolling.”