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(42:02, 'Chest Rockwell')
TRACK LIST: 1. What Atrocities are These 1:23 2. La Fin Absolute du Monde 8:18 3. Inconsistencies in Inanimate Objects 4:44 4. Warm Towels for E 3:19 5. On the Edge of Intensity 7:13 6. Mayhem’s Leap of Faith 4:05 7. Leeloo Dallas 4:19 8. Multi-pass 8:36 LINEUP: Josh Hines – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards; percussion Seth Wilson – guitars; keyboards; percussion; b/v Nick Rouse – drums, percussion; keyboards; b/v Nick Stewart – bass; keyboards; percussion
Prolusion. This American band, CHEST ROCKWELL, keeps silent about the year of its formation, just noting they have been going strong since mid-2004. “Chest Rockwell Vs the World” is a successor to their debut effort “Back to Square One” from 2005, although I heard they already released their third album, a couple of months ago. I feel ashamed that it took so much time for me to get to this, their second outing, as well as quite a few CDs by other performers, but it’s really hard to run the site all alone (it was, to be precise, only this last March that ProgressoR became a two-man ‘team’), on average having more than 120 discs in the queue, plus trying to write reviews that penetrate the essence of a recording, which really takes a good deal of time.
Analysis. Since no points of comparison are cited in the CD press kit, it seems Chest Rockwell consider their music to be one-of-a-kind. Being almost completely unacquainted with one of the main directions from the band’s overall stylistic palette (to be named below first), I can neither verify nor refute the matter. On the other hand, the album comes across as being indeed in many ways extraordinary, specifically because when I hear something familiar, I realize that the influences (generally speaking) are in the majority of cases changed almost beyond recognition. So those reading this writing now, please don’t pay too much attention to most of the reference points you’ll meet with here. I believe Chest Rockwell’s main aim is to unify semi-mainstream rock music with progressive. Whether that's really the case or not my verdict would be, well, they succeeded in fusing elements of Alternative, Art-Rock and something halfway between Prog-, Doom- and New Metal on half of the ten tracks here, La Fin Absolute du Monde, Multi-pass, On the Edge of Intensity, Inconsistencies in Inanimate Objects and Leeloo Dallas (which, by the way, cover more than two thirds of the recording). What sometimes come to my mind when I listen to these are Black Sabbath during their first progressive explorations and Pink Floyd’s mellower balladic pieces from their early ‘70s creations. Depending mainly on the style, all the afore-cited songs vary from calm-and-slow landscapes to moderately-up-tempo (yet still often uncomplicated) movements to fast-and-edgy high-energy excursions into what logically follows from this expression. In other words, since one of the songs’ three basic genre ingredients is quite rigid, all contain hooks and grooves besides more flexible features as well as typically progressive ones, which are thankfully spread more widely though (especially on the first two, both of which stand out for their acoustic guitar parts, used widely and inventively alike), some of the corresponding arrangements being positively eclectic. In terms of general diversity however, the first three fairly stronger surpass the last two, which is partly linked with their respective continuance. The third one is also among the winners; most of it is made in the progressive doom metal style, and in this particular case comparisons with the genre’s godfathers are at times inevitable, particularly with their “Master of Reality” and “Vol. 4” albums. The remaining three tracks are all instrumentals. Disc opener, What Atrocities are These, consists for the most part of the sounds of nature (the extremely hackneyed thunder and rain), which are at times combined with guitar soundscapes, but inasmuch as its acoustic guitar-laden finale is thematically tied together with the next track, La Fin Absolute du Monde, it should probably be regarded as an intro to that composition. Warm Towels for E is a piece for acoustic guitar. Played via a delay or compressor unit, it reminds me somewhat of a cross between Orchid and Embryo, both from “Master of Reality”, again. Unfortunately though, not without a fly in the ointment, and the groovy, double-themed Mayhem’s Leap of Faith sounds like a victim of the limitations of the Alternative style. As you can see above, each of the band’s four members is heralded as a multi-instrumentalist, all without exception also handling keyboards and percussion. However, I wouldn’t say the album is too rich in keyboard patterns, particularly in vivid ones, and I don’t hear any other percussion instruments here, apart from the drums and cymbals.
Conclusion. By and large, I find “Chest Rockwell Vs the World” to be a good release, but its overall originality pushed me to add half of a star to its rating. I think this recording was originally contrived to please two different categories of music lovers, and since that design seems work fairly well, the band may indeed kill two birds with one stone, potentially. Nevertheless, here’s my personal wish: Shoot Niagara, chaps, and make your next effort by exclusively progressive.
VM: June 16, 2008
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