MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 3/17/2019 8:26:42 PM
As much as I have come to emphatically detest this ‘post-rock’ fad as one of the quickest worn-out-welcomes in the history of heavy metal music (even on the fringes), I still can’t help but be explicably drawn to any project that has members of Atlas Moth, Leviathan and Gates of Slumber. I also refuse to be beholden to any tags on any debut without personal investigation, so it is with only slight trepidation that I venture into the cold and atmospheric din of Chrome Waves’ first release.
When “Hearts of Feathers” begins I am immediately taken aback; the obligatory fuzz distortion of a low-fi chord assault is curiously absent, and I am instead treated to what I can only describe as a visual of looking upwards in a vast body of water where there is darkness all around, yet the light from the surface draws ever nearer as the body floats effortlessly to the top. It’s a small chasm of light encircled that becomes larger and enveloping as the eyes adjust to the expansive world above the quiet din of a watery tomb. This is where “Height of the Rifles” begins and the album takes off on its own little jaunt through the senses. Yes, there is a certain tone that is elemental and even necessary with this type of music now, but Chrome Waves takes the mantel and elevates it just a few notches higher with a musical hybrid that shows this old man flashing glimpses of The Cure (especially in “Height of the Rifles”), Atlas Moth and twinges of Lantlos. I detest making comparisons to band members’ original bands, but to find that all-consuming comparison it’s wholly necessary just this once. The vocals from Stavros Giannopoulos are a screechy howl that summon the masses from all dark corners of the genre, and while it is nothing that is unheard or untried, if it fits and accomplishes the set visuals implied, then it is magic in the making. If I had to find a general comparison to the style, let’s say a modern Ihsahn is definitely the sound I’m hearing, and that’s a fine inspiration.
What I find most fascinating about Chrome Waves is that there aren’t a lot of tricks-and-sticks associated with the album; there is a set meter of delivery and influence within this psychedelic black effort. It’s not black for the sake of beating a dead horse in the post-Norwegian era, but rather it has a definitive bleakness that comes across in the sorrowed chords that orchestrate a bumpy ride through the caustic ruins of a genre soon to be left for dead. By taking the influences of all of these members’ main projects and injecting some of the parts of the pieces to construct the whole we have an impressive record that can touch your soul as well as embrace your pain. The beginning of “Eyelids of Dawn” is a prime example of exactly how to cause an inner turmoil while engaging a record of any genre. You were sucked into the chaos of “Light Behind a Shadow” and left in a heap, so to speak. It is then that the lulling effects of “Eyelids…” takes you into the space of serenity and calm to let you regroup, so to speak.
There is a definite feeling of dreariness and solemnity housed in this music, and that adds to the overall allure of the band. The lasting effects of the music are well constructed and just enough to keep you coming back with repeated listening, and within this delightfully dark entrance is a gateway to some of the most intricate feelings of despair you can muster in one sitting. This album is really a solid foray into the underbelly of an already below-ground medium bent on illusion and internal elevation.
Rating: 9 out of 10
(originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)