Considering the lengthy silence between Chrome Waves self-titled EP in 2012 and 2019’s A Grief Observed, it’s great that the group has been so prolific since their comeback. Their second full-length album, Where We Live (Disorder Recordings), picks up where its predecessor left off while featuring its own set of changes. Dustin Boltjes (ex-Skeletonwitch, Sacred Leather) is on drums in place of the tragically passed Bob Fouts, and the eclectic influences behind the band’s melancholic sound are given room to expand even further.
As indicated by the brief tremolo run that kicks off ‘Hallow Dreams’ only to never come up again, the band’s Black Metal beginnings are sparser with every release. The mood is as morose as ever with the guitars retaining a consistency heavy crunch, but the driving rhythms on ‘Gazing Into Oblivion’ and ‘On The Precipice’ have an almost danceable vibe more in line with post-Punk than anything too extreme. The vocals also flesh out the clean/harsh dynamic even further and there are extended sections that allow Kakophonix’s cello playing to shine.
This adjustment allows the band to push their atmospheric side to even further extents. ‘New Skin’ and ‘Spoonfed’ show off a great deal of Shoegaze influence with the former putting in exclusively clean vocals and almost euphoric chord progressions while the latter pairs that cleanliness with a lethargic chug and melancholic haze that plays out like a heavier Slowdive. ‘Where You Live’ is another highlight that upholds the Chrome Waves tradition of closing out with the darkest, most Doom-inspired track and manages to feel even more distraught thanks to its near eleven-minute length.
Overall, Where We Live is more or less of the same quality as A Grief Observed and does a splendid job of preserving Chrome Waves’ momentum. While the band’s miserable mood sees very little change between efforts, the stylistic variations keep their work engaging. The more melodic tracks end up being the most enjoyable and it’s easy to imagine them writing an entire album through that lens in the future. This is a safe recommendation for those already familiar with the band and might not be a bad introduction for newer listeners. Fans of Alcest may find this to be especially relevant to their interests.
8 / 10