Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Chrome 'Feel It Like A Scientist' (2014)

I  a huge fan of American Psychedelic/Industrial Rock pioneers Chrome, so to have the band come back out of retirement and release a new album is a big deal for me. To match their trippy, stream-of-consciousness-type compositions, I'm doing a play-by-play as I listen to the album:

1. Nephilim (Help Me)- repetitive guitar riff with guitar/synth noise strangeness overlays and distorted, incomprehensible vocals over a basic rhythm. This sounds like Chrome should!

2. Prophecy- this song may predict the end of the world, but not of Chrome! Again repetitive guitar/synth riff with basic drumbeat, catchy as hell though, reminds me of the riff for "Eyes On Mars" but with a more minor chord perhaps as it turns down a bit a the end. Helios sounds clearer here on vocals than I'm accustomed to, however there are some demented choral overlays by Anne Dromeda that perfectly dement the song.

3. Lipstick- perhaps for half machine lips, this song squawks out some crazy vocals through heavy flange and simple, calming, almost jangly synth. It sounds like a mechanical duck screaming out its death throes in a vat of acid while coffee bar patrons look on. Has a distinct feeling of something from Skinny Puppy's 'Back and Forth' cassette, I'd say "AM/Meat Flavour."

4. Lady Feline- loud, proud, and space-bound, this track sounds like a twisted go-go version of Lemmy-era Hawkwind, which might be the most succinct description of Chrome I've ever given.

5.Something In The Cloud- brief atmospheric intro to tripped out guitar/synth over echo and flanged out vocals. There's a Wax Trax! feel to this track that I can't quite place. Random computer noises/synth close out the track in a prolonged fashion, increasing your discomfort.

6. Six- another loud rocker of a track, Helios again sings with clear vocals that remind of Raymond Watts of KMFDM/Pig in delivery, mixed with Carl McCoy of the Fields Of The Nephilim. This track gives us some excellent dirty guitar solos, then does a drum solo (in a Chrome song?!) to finish.

7. Unbreakable Flouride Lithium Plastic- opens with a guitar riff that sounds like an early Black Sabbath doom riff penned by a robot with quickly corroding circuits over TONS of noise and the typical Chrome basic rock beat. The vocals kick in with a higher pitch, I'm not sure who does the singing here. The guitar continues to devolve with the noise to produce an almost hallucinogenic mass-hysteria amongst the music as a whole. Then it speeds up to further add to my disorientation, slows down as I'm at the breaking point and starts dropping instruments out for a noisy sample-laden finish.

8. Captain Boson- Atmospheric guitar flanges and spacey synths open up this track, to be followed by pensive mostly clear Helios Creed vocals, the beat drops in and the synth changes to a more shrill electric organ-type voice. More guitar flanges break over this to melt my brain and add depth to the song.

1st of 2 records in, Chrome still sounds like Chrome, plenty of experimentation but not taken to the extreme of sounding like a totally different band. Consistency within experimentation is much appreciated by me Chrome, well done! Now, on to vinyl #2!

9. Big Brats- Although the track is called "Big Brats" I'm pretty sure the opening sample is saying "You have big breasts." Anyway, definite Electric Hellfire Club and KMFDM feeling in the dirty, distorted, swaggering guitar riff that opens the track. The track continues to develop the layers and progress the riffs in a very early EHC fashion, dropping the Ultra-Heavy Beat feeling that it could have gone in. I can't help but head bop along with it! About 2:27 minutes in, I hear the bass line more clearly and it feels very My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult before the song closes out with some ambient screaming. Nice.

10. Brady The Chicken Boy- again some funky bass ala MLWTTKK, chicken vocals. This is like some Lard/Revolting Cocks nonsense track and I love it! Forkboy beware! Wait a minute... was that a flute I heard?!

11. Slave Planet Institution- atmospheric looped opening over a sample of someone speaking, I don't recognize it. Very moody, kinda spooky. Apocalyptic vibes coming through... a weird melody on synth (I think) starts to work over the track, then it devolves quickly into a burst of computer-like sounds as if the AOL loading sound was compressed into less than 2 seconds.

12. Cyberchondria- very progressive/spacey Rock riff opens up this 7 minute+ track, heavily flanged and allowed to ride out in a semi-Doom Metal fashion. Then some EERIE and monstrous distorted and lightly echoed vocals kick in to add a disturbing element. The guitars continue to add dimension and twist my mind with various effects and solos. Again, heavy Hawkwind vibes in this one, always a good thing!

13. Himalayanelimination- bizarre and twisted, but yet still really fun, this track opens with some samples, great bass line, vocals simply calling out "Awww" as though mediating upon some mantra upon a mountaintop. The guitar riff is busier than most Chrome ones, slightly and conveys a good sense of movement with the bass line while the vocals continue to do their weird thing. Now that it's playing more, the guitar riff feels a bit like the Munster's theme song... The bass too has an almost surfy edge to it. *Spock voice* Fascinating. The song suddenly drops out, and on we move!

14. The Mind- harsh but crisp guitar notes like over strung strings with a touch of gain are met with slow beats, slow, clean vocal delivery in a spoken-word fashion. Over and after that, the guitar develops into some distorted feedback sounds and noodling. This is the most sustained mood of 'chill out' on the whole album to this point, likely throughout the rest. Somehow, I get faint Nick Cave and later, chiller, Swans vibes from this track.

15. Nymph Droid- atmospheric, spacey, and ambient synth lead into a basic rhythm and distorted vocals like broken computers in discussion over guitar noise that feels like the squealing of R2-D2 if he met those guys in Deliverance... guitar noise quickly takes a more mellow but still distorted feel. The song mostly stays chill and droning, with the guitar experimentation continuing and occasionally blistering until the song pulls a fast fake ending to return to an ambient and spartan outro that builds back up with a beat, which then drops back out as the ambient, slow-decaying synth notes play out and evolve. This is the most Tangerine Dream-esque I've ever heard Chrome be I think, at least for this long. Very unexpected, very cool.

Post-listening thoughts: great album! It definitely sounds like Chrome and is consistent in that regard, but also takes that style and makes new sounds. Zero stagnation while delivering a similar product? Exceedingly hard to do. I will be spinning this one often!

YOU can have your own copy from Helios Creed's label, King Of Spades records' ebay store.
On 1st press red double vinyl (what I have) for $32+9.64 shipping:

Or on CD for  $11+3 shipping

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*


  1. Hey the liner notes will tell you that the lyrics in "Big Brats" say "we're big brats" not "you have big breasts" lol... also they will tell you that the lead vocal in "Unbreakable Fluoride Lithium Plastic" is performed by Anne Dromeda.

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