Album covers are weird, man. Actually, when it comes to heavy music albums, album art is sometimes a little dull, seeing work from the same artists over and over, often regurgitating similar ideas that seem interchangeable and somewhat unchallenging. It’s not often you can see the record’s art and have a really good idea of what the music is going to sound like, which I guess is a minor quibble.
I already feel stupid starting a piece about a record I really like with my obsession over album art, but here we are. First time I saw the cover of Chrome Waves’ new record “The Rain Will Cleanse,” I felt like I was totally prepared for the murky goth-rock-splashed post-black metal misery that is packed into these six songs. The woman looking dead eyed into your soul as she lies over an orange-splashed autumn evening sky perfectly encapsulates what you’ll hear on this album. This band—vocalist/guitarist James Benson, guitarist/vocalist/synth player Jeff Wilson, bassist Zion Meagher, drummer Dustin Boltjes—and its music has shifted a lot over the years, lessening the black metal pressure and really upping the drab majesties that splash their wonderfully moody music, with this album really sticking into your ribs like a deadly sharp knife jammed there by someone you must have wronged at some point.
“When Night Falls” gets off to a murky start as the melodies thicken and pull you under, and a strong chorus, which is their knack on this record, knocks you for a loop. The fog builds as the guitars gain a foothold, swimming into the back of your mind. “Sometimes” is a tremendous song, the best thing on here, and it feels gothy and massive at first, pummeling with moody singing, with the call of, “Looking for a place to sleep eternally,” ringing out in your brain. The track is infectious, bursting through thick clouds, adding a deeper emotional toll that forces you to pay the price. “Tired” trickles in before the blows are landed, and then dreamy vocals that are a little higher register begin to make their way into the scene. The playing washes through your senses, thickening the veins and rushing through storms. Heavy gaze hammers down, slipping into the darkest region of the sky.
“A Future” is the longest cut here, running 9:09 and starting by increasing the already existing haze laid down by what preceded it. There are sections that are sullen and sorrowful, and the chorus is well executed and powerful, with guitars chiming into a psyche wash. Halfway through, things get mid-tempo before the guitars burst a beam to the earth, the feeling of dusk drops, and the final embers are buried in the soil. “Wind Blown” pushes the melodies hard, the singing is strong again, and the chorus nails you right in the center of your chest. In fact, you might find your heart rushing along with this one, increasing your blood flow, and sustaining the heavy impact this song has, swelling with energy before bowing out. “Aspiring Death” is the closer, and it’s dark and shadowy as the song basks under the stars before shrieks rain down. The heavy cloud cover intensifies as the devastation rings out, the vocals get harsh again, and the anguish multiplies tenfold. Wrenching calls burrow into your psyche, noises waft, and the track disappears into the night sky, dissolving into the cosmic dust.
Chrome Waves have changes pretty drastically from their earlier days and their initial EP, and each time out, they get more interesting and somehow darker. “The Rain Will Cleanse” is the best thing they’ve done so far, and it’s something I have not been able to stop visiting lately. This is a record that tells you a lot of what you need to know on its cover, but once you dig into the music, you might find yourself showing that same distant stare, wondering what’s happened to you.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/chromewavesofficial
To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://chromewaves.bandcamp.com/album/the-rain-will-cleanse
Or here (Europe): https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://disorder-recordings.com/
And here: https://avantgardemusic.com/