Where We Live is the new album by Indianapolis based trio Chrome Waves who are made up of new drummer Dustin Boltjes, James Benson on bass/guitar/vocals, and Jeff Wilson on bass/guitars/synth/vocals. It is the follow-up to the 2019 debut full-length A Grief Observed, their split with industrial noise terrorists Gridfailure and The Cold Light Of Despair featuring covers of tracks by Nirvana, Nick Cave and Slowdive. The decision to cover Slowdive is as significant as naming the band after a Ride track, providing an important clue as to their influences. The band reformed in 2018 following a protracted period away.
I first encountered Jeff Wilson’s work when I reviewed his excellent gothic/post-punk influenced Deeper Graves project, which like Where We Live, was released on his own Disorder Recordings label. The beautiful art/layout was done by Brian Sheehan/Legerdemain and has a more abstract approach, compared to the organic natural themes of previous releases.
Hallow Dreams opens with a violin led intro (courtesy of Christopher Brown) before some blistering black metal kicks in, the drumming is especially impressive and any concerns about new drummer Dustin’s ability are quickly blown out of the water. The track soon settles into a mid to low paced range with Jeff’s intensely emotional vocals accompanying it. The Classical influences remind me a little of Emperor’s later more grandiose works and there is also a progressive post-rock sound too. Quite a heady, yet effective mixture of influences for an opening track.
Gazing Into Oblivion starts slowly and recalls the gothic intonations of Jeff’s Deeper Graves project, as well as the sense of drama you’d expect from Sisters of Mercy. It’s a driving number chocked full of dynamic aggression and brooding melody. A killer track. New Skin marks the halfway mark and is a slice of shoegaze centered loveliness with atmospherics in spades. Jeff eschews his black metal shrieks altogether here and sings in a style not too dissimilar to Mark Gardener from Ride.
What Chrome Waves do so well is respectfully acknowledge black metal’s heritage while simultaneously experimenting beyond the boundaries of the genre…
Spoonfed is a little longer at over eight minutes long and has more of a depressive doom vibe, along the lines of a more restrained Type O Negative but without that band’s trademark self-deprecating sense of humour. Penultimate track On The Precipice harks back to the Norwegian scene ala Mayhem with some chunky riffing and harsh vocals before the melodic choruses take you by surprise. There is a distinctive Post-Metal edge that you’d expect from Isis, Neurosis, Rosetta and other bands of that ilk.
Final track Where You Live is the longest on the record at nearly eleven minutes and lives up to the expression ‘saving the best till last’. The track has epic written all over it, a slow and steady build up, the plaintive cries from Jeff and the waves of distortion that recalls Ride’s Vapour Trail. A track that strongly highlights a sense of finality.
If the likes of Deafheaven, Wolves In The Throne Room and Alcest appeal to you, then there’s a very good chance you’ll appreciate this album. However I would argue that even a black metal purist like me will find something appealing about it too, opposed to the aforementioned groups, as it feels more natural and less ‘hip’ (in the Pitchfork sense). What Chrome Waves do so well is respectfully acknowledge black metal’s heritage while simultaneously experimenting beyond the boundaries of the genre.
This is another superb release from Jeff Wilson and will ensure I will be staying glued to Disorder Recordings output for the foreseeable future.
Scribed by: Reza Mills