Greg Puciato – ‘Child Soldier: Creator Of God’

By Dave Stewart

Greg Puciato – a man who is considered by fans and critics worldwide as being one of the finest vocalists to ever grace heavy music and the genres that orbit around it – has made a solo record. Best known for fronting The Dillinger Escape Plan and being a ferocious whirlwind of mayhem on stage, he’s no stranger to dipping his toes in other styles of music, enjoying success with other projects such as the spacious and brooding The Black Queen and the electrifying supergroup Killer Be Killed. This record, ‘Child Soldier: Creator Of God’, isn’t like anything he’s ever done before. Is it heavy? Sort of. Is it electronically influenced? Sort of. Is it good? Yes. A million times, yes.

Way back in March, we were treated to the first taste of what was coming from the album in the form of ‘Fire For Water’, a murky and striking introduction. Unsettling harmonies, throat-tearing screams, rib-rattling distortion and the big reveal of a collaboration with the original Dillinger drummer Chris Pennie came all together in a fiery (not sorry about the pun) and devastating collision, giving the impression that this solo record was going to be an aggressive one. And it is, in places, sure, but it goes way deeper than that.

There are parts of this album that border on pop and synthwave, stripping away all the rage and frustration and replacing it with velvety textures and passionate, breathy vocals. At times, it feels like time travelling back to the 80s – directly into a hazy neon-lit haven, a vibe that ‘A Pair Of Questions’ has oozing from every single pore. ‘Temporary Object’ is another example, blending softly sung hooks and slick guitar licks with lusciously layered electronic tones, and irresistibly cool and subtle drum work. ‘Fireflies’ follows a similar blueprint but builds towards something completely different, culminating in a gigantic crescendo of harmonious glory as Puciato cries “Where were you when I was underground?”. And believe us, it doesn’t stop there.

If you came here wanting aggression, you’ll be pleased to know there’s plenty of it dotted throughout the album, all showcasing Puciato at his erratic and furious best. ‘Do You Need Me To Remind You’ is a tremendous heavy hitter, hurtling gut-churningly low guitars and bellowing bass tones at you from every angle as the vocals switch from swooning to sweltering. ‘Roach Hiss’ is an unapologetically grungy number, decorated with the raw aggression and banshee-like shrieks we’ve come to know and love over the years. The grungy vibes flow through ‘Deep Set’ too, rife with swampy riffs, groove-laden drumming and some Jekyll and Hyde vocals that will both hypnotise and mesmerise.

If that isn’t enough for you, there’s even more variety on offer. There’s some synth-heavy punk vibes in ‘Down When I’m Not’, with moody and angst-laden vocals draped over an energetic and youthful instrumental. There’s dark and volatile unpredictability spilling out of ‘Creator Of God’, crammed full of odd time signatures, pulsating bass, eerie background tones and a juxtaposing delicate vocal delivery. There’s the eerie and spacious epic ‘You Know I Do’, the industrial and desperate ‘Evacuation’ and the closing rollercoaster ride of ‘September City’. This is is easily the most ambitious piece of work that Puciato has ever been a part of, and it’s simply stunning.

If you’ve been mourning the loss of The Dillinger Escape Plan and hungering for new music from his other projects, then this record should lift your spirits, satisfy your cravings, and so much more. Puciato adopts a Trent Reznor-like persona, shapeshifting through a whole host of different vibes and emotions without ever transforming into something unrecognisable. Passages of pure chaos gradually simmer into expansive tranquility, the journey between the two exploring territory that is paradoxically vividly familiar and previously untrodden.

The end result is artistic expression at its finest – a man no longer constrained by boundaries or pigeonholed by a genre, portraying himself exactly how he wants to be heard. It almost feels like a movie soundtrack at times, dramatically transitioning from scene to scene and shifting your focus onto something you didn’t see coming. This record, like all good movies, is something that you’ll want to revisit over and over again. One of the most authentic and magnificent albums you’ll hear this year.

DAVE STEWART

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