Jeff Wilson‘s productivity in 2020 continues unhindered with this new four track split release with Suicide Forest. Chrome Waves are an Indianapolis outfit that play a brand of shoegaze inspired atmospheric post black metal. There was a change in membership recently but the line-up here is the aforementioned Jeff Wilson on guitar/synth, Dustin Boltjes on drums, James Benson on bass/vocals and Kakophonix aka Chris Brown on cello (who featured on both Chrome Waves and Deeper Graves releases this year).
After the comparatively slick abstract art of Where We Live, the cover here sees a return to a more traditional DIY black metal Xerox style especially in its use of nature, which one may have seen on early releases by the likes of Ulver. I for one love the design by Grace XIII and find it likely indicative of the more lo-fi, back to the roots approach of the music to come.
Opening the split is Chrome Waves‘ Broken that starts in an almost funereal fashion reminiscent of the early works of Mayhem and accompanied by the gorgeous cello work of Kakophonix. The vocals are laden with emotion and fits aptly with the title of the track. There is a heavier, more aggressive feel in comparison to the likes of the hook laden Gazing Into Oblivion as well as the lighter shades of Spoonfed from the preceding Where We Live album.
Broken then segues into the second of Chrome Waves contributions Steadfast which is an instrumental, dominated by cello. It can be seen as an almost classical piece and is a good deal more subtle than the bombastic Wagnerian approach favoured by bands like Emperor. If the Last Night of the Proms featured pieces like this than I would be more incentivized to watch it.
Unlike the beautiful and meditative sounds to be had on the Chrome Waves instrumental, we are confronted by reams of eerie noise evoking a sense of fear and dread…
Undertaking a small amount of research, I see that Suicide Forest is a one man project, the brainchild of Austin Kruger who hails from Tucson, Arizona. The band-name is a reference to Aokigahara (or Sea of Trees) which is located on the north-western flank of Mount Fuji in Japan. It’s a densely packed and reportedly haunted forest notorious for the amount of suicides that have taken place within it. It will probably not feature very high on my itinerary when I eventually get the opportunity to visit Japan.
This is the band’s first release since 2018’s Self-Titled debut full-length and they commence with A Fitting End, the longest track on here. Musically it is depressive black metal and fans of the likes of Xasthur and Leviathan may appreciate the oppressive gloominess created. There is an increase in tempo around the four and a half minute mark with some lightning fast drumming that is maintained for the vast remainder.
As with the two Chrome Waves numbers, there is an effortless segue into yet another instrumental by the name of When All Has Come To Pass. Unlike the beautiful and meditative sounds to be had on the Chrome Waves instrumental, we are confronted by reams of eerie noise evoking a sense of fear and dread one would feel were they to take a walk in the aforementioned Aokigahara. A deliciously creepy way to end the release.
Unsurprisingly Chrome Waves were the reason why I decided to review this release and their contributions were up to their usual high standards. As a bonus, my attention was also drawn to Suicide Forest, a band I was hitherto unfamiliar with. Therefore in the immortal words of Errol Brown and Hot Chocolate, everyone’s a winner baby.
Scribed by: Reza Mills