Tee Pee / MIA Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/05/1999
How does one describe a band like Chrome Locust? The product of two former members of D-Gen (including Todd Youth, formerly of Murphy's Law), one might expect this band to be punk to the extreme.
However, it's best if you put all expectations aside when it comes time to listen to Chrome Locust's self-titled debut, a ten-song onslaught that rarely disappoints - though it takes a few listens to really get into the disc.
The band - guitarist/vocalist Youth, bassist Jim Heneghan and drummer/vocalist Michael Wildwood - remind me a lot of Helmet, who specialized in knowing how to put crunch into the music while keeping the vocals and their messages more streamlined. In a similar vein, Chrome Locust do the same thing throughout the eight vocal tracks on this disc. (The remaining two, including the 40-second "Intro", are just instrumentals, but they are executed well.)
On first listen, I'll admit that Chrome Locust passed by in a blur. This disc - which clocks in at barely 30 minutes in length - didn't seem to ever come up for air, as tracks like "Drop," "New World Disorder" and "Formula" all cruised by, giving musical pleasure without a lot of comprehension on my part.
Fortunately, a disc that's only a half-hour in length is one I have the luxury of pushing the "repeat" button on; sure enough, with repeated listens, this disc began to show its true colors. Some of the messages, like that on "M.I.A.," should be taken very seriously, as Youth and crew capture the pain of a former war hero who lives with the horrible memories of battle as well as a gripping drug addiction.
Other tracks, like "Drop" and "New World Disorder," invite the listener to make their own conclusions as to what they think the message of the songs are. Still others, like "Love Rap" and "Teen Dream," take a lighter approach to things, such as the dream every young musician starting in a garage band has of the days of glory.
For all the strengths of Chrome Locust, there are two gripes I have with this disc. First, while the music and songwriting prove themselves to be worthy of attention, it shouldn't have to take repeated listens for their power and beauty to really come through. Second - you saw this one coming, didn't you? - this disc is far too short, especially when one really gets into the groove. (I will say this: ending the disc with the instrumental "The Cycle Of Birth And Death" is a wise move; it allows the listener to come down slowly from the musical high they're sent on.)
Chrome Locust is a great first effort that needs only a little more fine tuning. If the band can make those minor adjustments, their next record should be unstoppable.