Along with its fellow Long Island outfit Taking Back Sunday, Brand New was the torchbearer of the post-Thursday emo sound that exploded about five years ago. Although Brand New struck first with its 2001 debut, Your Favorite Weapon, Taking Back Sunday raised the stakes on its 2002 debut, Tell All Your Friends. By the time Brand New released Deja Entendu in 2003, the scene had worked itself into a frenzy. Perhaps sensing the genre's diminishing creative returns, Brand New drifted away from the emo-punk template on Deja Entendu (which, tellingly, translates into "already heard" in French). Although the album was hugely popular, it hinted at a potentially destructive musical and personal restlessness, which seemed to strike when the band essentially disappeared in mid-2004. Rumors swirled about the health of frontman Jesse Lacey, demos leaked, and release dates for Entendu's successor changed frequently.
When so much speculation and gossip precedes an album, its release typically feels anticlimactic. But The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me wears its scars prominently. Its dynamic shifts shake with an at-the-end-of-the-rope despair, though Brand New generally avoids rote musical formulas to convey it. On Taking Back Sunday's Louder Now, which came out last year, every crescendo and breakdown was visible a mile away. The Devil has a more nuanced, moody approach—see "Jesus Christ," "Limousine," and "Luca." In a sense, Brand New has followed Thursday, whose A City By The Light Divided last year had similar ambition.
As is usually the case with these types of albums, The Devil could use editing. Most songs stretch beyond the four-minute mark, with two lasting nearly six minutes, and another nearly eight. Even the throwaway transition track, "Untitled," sticks around for two minutes. With any band, ambition seems inextricably tied to bloat, but The Devil's better moments make a little pomposity endurable.