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18 March 2011

Chrome - '3rd from the Sun' (Don't Fall Off the Mountain)

Chrome in 1982 has taken on a somewhat more formulaic approach, though it's still a formula that is very distinctly and uniquely their own. There's some longer tunes here, such as 'Armageddon', that establish unrelenting horizontality. There's still the usual thick guitars, atmospheric effects, and slow-moving oscillators, but by this point they've been doing it for awhile and there's not such a strangeness to it. The vocals are frequently doubletracked, maybe both Edge and Creed in unison (?), but they tend to create a more robotlike effect, which is almost jarring on the opening cut ('Firebomb'). '3rd From the Sun' begins with an epic chordal progression, illustrating how much closer to traditional rock music we've gotten since Alien Soundtracks. When taken out of the bedroom experimentalist environment, the harsh vocal delivery and minor-key guitar leads draw this closer to horror-rock territory than I'd like. I'm not saying this sounds like White Zombie, but there are some affinities. Using chords isn't a sin; on 'Off the Line' a fairly standard progression becomes a workout in maximalism within a minimal structure, and it's one of the more rewarding (and lyrically slim) tunes here. There were guitar solos on Alien Soundtracks too, probably moreso than here; what's changed is that Chrome has figured out how to be 'heavy'. It's not thick or loud necessarily, but heavy in terms of speed and space. Parts of this record remind me of Voivod, who were surely influenced by Chrome. And there's a big scary head on the cover of this record (like there is on most Voivod albums).

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