Review: Chrome Waves ‘Earth Will Shed Its Skin’
By now Shaman regulars should be more than familiar with Chrome Waves, the quartet led by Jeff Wilson (Deeper Graves, Disorder Recordings) on guitar and synth but which also features James Benson (Comatose) on guitar, vocals and synth, Zion Meagher (Nachtmystium) on bass and this time round Gerry Naples (Novembers Doom, Wolvhammer, Hatemonger) on drums in place of Dustin Boltjes. The band originally formed back in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2019 that they started regularly putting out a steady stream of releases including Earth Will Shed Its Skin, their fourth full-length album and the follow-up to 2021’s The Rain Will Cleanse.
The artwork was created by Valnoir (aka Jean-Emmanuel Simoulin) of the Metastazis French art studio and who has worked with some pretty prominent names including Alcest, Amorphis, Behemoth and Ulver. The album’s cover curiously reminded me of The Offspring’s Splinter in the shattering of a precious object but therein the similarities end, fortunately. The title is also curious given the nature of the image we are presented with which contradicts that of a mere ‘shedding’, ho hum, onto the review…
Chrome Waves have something of a trademark sound and Forward with its thunderous drumming, shrieked, sometimes despairing vocals and black metal influenced shoegaze vibes typifies this perfectly. Some of the guitar lines even recall Iron Maiden, which is surprising considering I’m not a fan. A tremendous opener. Under The Weight Of A Billion Souls was the first single to be released and on an initial listen I can see why. It is absolutely hook laden, and so infectious a track, it belies its eight-and-a-half-minute run time, and in that respect, it reminds me of Gazing Into Oblivion from their 2020 album Where We Live.
The Long Rope alternates between black metal blastbeats and melancholic post-rock/post-punk. The track features saxophone courtesy of Roman Pinter of the Viking folk and world music influenced band Skyggesynd, adding yet another layer of experimentation to the band’s already diverse sound. A superb lesson in how to effectively pen a post-black metal tune.
Earth Will Shed Its Skin sees both Chrome Waves continual growth as a band as well as a willingness to stretch the boundaries…
What Desperate Looks Like by contrast is a ballad and a beautiful one at that. Haunting and laden with emotion, it’s a veritable delight to listen to and one which affords for some breathing space after its comparatively more aggressive predecessor, meanwhile The Nail proves yet another sonic surprise with vocals that remind one of the late, great Layne Staley, and an overall feel reminiscent of Alice In Chains during their more subdued moments. The sound of the trumpet you hear emanates from the one and only Mac Gollehon whose album The End Is The Beginning made my Shaman Top Ten last year (at the number one spot I hasten to add) and it is always a pleasure to hear Mac on any release.
Before you start getting too cosy, however, the band suddenly start ripping along at a fair old pace and one which brings the track to a combustible conclusion, outstanding. Broken has a sense of grim inevitability and hopelessness to it and the use of strings further serves to highlight this. Suitably sombre and by extension the ideal way to end the album.
Earth Will Shed Its Skin sees both Chrome Waves continual growth as a band as well as a willingness to stretch the boundaries of their sound without abandoning or compromising it all together. It’s a shame more artists don’t evolve as naturally and it will therefore shock exactly no-one that I found the album to be yet another certified winner and a more than worthy addition to the band’s already burgeoning and impressive catalogue.
Label: M-Theory Audio
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram
Scribed by: Reza Mills