Chromatic BLaCK – Self-Titled

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Chromatic BLaCK

Self-Titled - OK! Good!

German-based rockers Chromatic BLaCK see themselves as making more than just music.  In fact, they describe their experience as the “master plan of music, performance and visual aspects.”  From where I sit, the visual portion of that claim confuses me.  Holding their self titled full length in my hand, the triple folding digipak looks colourful and vibrant, but I can only throw my hands up and shrug when pondering how it gives the band an edge over others.  Maybe it’s something reserved for the live setting, something that truly needs to be experienced first hand.  But, I don’t have that luxury, so from here on out I’m going to treat this review like any other.  Thankfully, in this regard Chromatic Black offers plenty to speak of.

“Let’s lose control! Let’s feel the rock and roll!” shouts German accented lead vocalist Daniel R Mueller summarizing my mindset while listening to Chromatic BLaCK’s  self-titled full length.  Put otherwise,Chromatic BLaCK has set out and succeeded at making a really engaging, really big and rock’n soundtrack, sure to work its way into your head and keep you moving.  I’m not usually one to speak or gush of things with the “rock” tag, but this original project just speaks to me.

Chromatic Black works so well on both an individual and track-by-track basis that dissecting all of these songs individually seems a bit unfair.  As a whole, all eleven tracks are distinctly Chromatic BLaCK.  The vocal interplay between Mueller and his bandmates’ gang contributions is enough to keep anyone on their toes.  Sometimes they trade off between phrases or words, and for others they share duties.  Take opener “Scream and Shout” for instance.  Between Mueller’s nervous near-whispers and escalating cries comes a host of bellows, harmonies, and screams, held together by the shear insanity of it all.  Other times their roles are more discrete, as per the clear, coherent “woahs” punctuating Mueller’s lines in “Under Pressure.”  Occasionally some synthetic effects permeate the fray, as per the brief soundboard appearance in the intro of “Do You Wanna.”  Ultimately, the execution is ever changing, but the relationship between the band members ensues an umbrella of coherence.

Lyrically Chromatic BLaCK doesn’t push any boundaries, but the content fits the mood.  Light-hearted, fun loving tracks include songs about giving it all up and taking a mental break (“Stay On Holiday”), goofy tracks like “Too Primitive For Intelligence” feature a uniform, almost Aquabats-esque backing group speaking the title every second line, and “Human Animals” finds the group admitting to being lowly evolved specimens.  “No Reason” ends the album with an attempt to speak out against military aggression with the chorus “we’ve got no reason to kill for you.”  While I welcome any effort at political awareness, the song doesn’t seem very well focused, and the criticism seems more directed at those joining their national military, which is a muddy topic to get into at best.

And lastly, I can’t close this review without a few words about one of the album’s more unique tracks, and a few of the familiarities and comparisons it forces. “Cos We Are All Spiders Caught In Our Own Web” slows things down and scales back the typically busy soundscape, instead unveiling a dark, thumping beast.  It might just be my horror radar lighting up, but the combination of a moody acoustic intro, reverberating, heavily distorted guitar, disturbed vocal presence featuring that thick, dark and sloppy German accent, really brings to mind horror group Blood Sucking Zombies From Outer Space, or evenLast Days Of Jesus.  Granted, Chromatic BLaCK sits far from the horror genre, but it’s reassuring finding a band respecting and employing oft marginalized sounds – even if simply for effect.

However, for all the variety of Chromatic BLaCK ’s self-titled effort, the album is also guilty of existing within its own tightly contained world.  In other words, it’s a busy album musically that doesn’t stray from its own comforts too often (the prior track being a welcome exception).  Consequently, the album drags its feet towards the conclusion, but certainly not for a lack of enthusiasm.  While certainly not a one trick pony, the group’s next step might be making some tough judgment calls to keep listeners on board and enthusiastic from start to finish.

But when all is said and done, I’ve had a great time with Chromatic BLaCK’s scattered brand of garbled thoughts and punchy tunes.  With a sound just unique enough to stand strong on a foundation of rhythmic rock, Chromatic Black shouldn’t be leaving my rotation any time soon.