Chrome - "Chrome Flashback / Chrome Live - The Best Of"
(Cleopatra 1999, CLP 0472-2)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
Dark and aggressive, Chrome's brand of punked out, industrial, psychotic, acid mind fucking psychedelia was a cosmic shock when the band first appeared in 1977. My own introduction was when I heard "Danger Zone" and "Anorexic Sacrifice" on a radio show in the early 80's. At the time I was very picky about accepting anything "New Wave" and only really liked punk for it's energy. But these guys were playing acid rock in a punk context, as well as flinging about experimental sonic mayhem and I was intrigued. This 2-CD set consists of a through-the-years compilation on disc one, and, arguably the more valuable of the two, a live set from early 1998 when Helios Creed had assembled a band for Chrome's first tour in over 15 years.
I'm partial to tunes like "Pygmies In Zee Park" that have loads of freakout guitar, but played against frantic rhythms and wild vocalizations. Everything comes unhinged and the song can only fade away rather than end in any sensible way. My longtime favorites "Danger Zone" and "Anorexic Sacrifice" are pounding rockers that you can dance to, headbang to, or just zone out with. "Danger Zone", in particular, is an amazing piece of spacerock done as only Chrome can, weaving some killer guitar work through their nightmarish cosmic tapestry. Overall, the 14 tracks on disc one give a solid overview of the original Chrome led by Creed and the late Damon Edge.
Fast forward to 1998. This live set was a new experience for me as I haven't kept up with Chrome since their early recordings and I was pleasantly surprised. Disc two lists 11 tracks but my player indicates 12. The music doesn't actually sound live until track two so I'm wondering if the first track is a studio piece. It's an extended intro called "New Age" which establishes an industrial beat that slowly builds in intensity with strange voices and ends with sonic freakout guitar. Anyway, starting with track two, the band wastes no time launching directly into a guitar crunching assault that is guaranteed to please Hawkwind, heavy psych, and... hell, even metal fans. Honestly, for balls-to-the-wall space metal these guys can easily compete with the Monster Magnet branch of heavy space. The scary vocals are still a trademark and add to the music's intensity. The pace is relentless and refuses to let the audience catch it's breath. If you're like me and know Chrome but haven't kept up over the years pick this up for the live disc. If you haven't yet ventured into the Chrome universe then this is as good a place as any to start.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz