Chrome Waves – Chrome Waves
Release: EP, 2012 (Gravedancer Records)
Sonic Brethren: Atlas Moth, Wolvhammer, Nachtmystium
When Chrome Waves announced this album late last year, underground metal fans instantly dubbed them a “supergroup” and eagerly awaited their debut. Seven months and much built-up hype later, the self-titled release finally hit stores. Featuring Stavros Giannopoulos of the Atlas Moth, Wolvhammer axemaster Jeff Wilson, and former Nachtmystium live drummer Bob Fouts holding down the rhythm section, no one can deny the pedigree associated with this band. And the Immortal-eqsue galloping riff that opens the album on “Height of the Rifle” grabs you by the throat and demands attention.
Then the song takes an introspective and dreamy turn, and you’ve now heard where the rest of the record is heading. In typical post-metal fashion Chrome Waves weaves between styles, moods and genre influences while trying to create something uniquely its own. And you can clearly hear each of the members contributions; aggressive melodies and stoned cacophonies conjure up memories of 2011’s An Ache for Distance while an old-school sounding synth occassinally rears its head to transform verses into Black Meddle-esque grooves. But with all the familiarities, you quickly realize this album is like an old friend. An old friend you rarely care to visit. He’s not a bad friend, or a dishonest one. Just a guy whose monotony and unwillingness to take risks puts him on the back-burner.
Take closer “Blackbird.” As the buzzy electronics and impending riffs slowly grow more intense, you realize a full 1/3 into the song that it’s not going anywhere. Stavros’ screams make an appearance for a minute or so before the band continues to trudge through the same chord progressions and drawn-out solos. Though the beautifully textured synths align perfectly with the muggy guitars, the song itself feels improvised, like a Thursday night jam session which happened to be caught on tape in a high-end studio. While many of the individual pieces of the album are breathtaking — see the ending of “That Cursed Armored Train” — they are jumbled and don’t feel as if they belong to the same psychedelic puzzle.
These feelings slowly wash in and just as you begin to process your thoughts, it’s done. Clocking in at under 30 minutes with two-out-of-six songs nothing but ambient filler, you feel a little ripped off. Not because the music was horrible, but because it could have achieved so much more. The few quick blackened blasts the album contains are brilliant and punishing, yet as fleeting as the whole work itself. Releasing little more than what has already been on the band’s Soundcloud for months is unsatisfying to say the least and shows that in this world of instant press releases and Facebook pages, too much hype is as damaging as too little.
Final Thoughts: Containing a few moments of brilliance, Chrome Waves proves to be a bit underwhelming and leaves you wondering what else the band has in store for a full-length release.