There are bands that neatly fit into categories and then there are those that seek to be a “category” unto themselves — as to the latter, meet Chrome Hoof. Formed in 2000 by Leo Smee, bassist of UK doom-metal-ers Cathedral, Chrome Hoof began as a drum ‘n’ bass duo and grew into a performance-oriented collective resembling Funkadelic/Parliament, Hawkwind, and Afro Celt Sound System. Its approach combines aspects of psychedelia, electronic dance music, metal, funk, and progressive rock for an unpredictable, invigorating mash-up of styles and moods.
“Enter the Drobe” conjoins the sweeping prog-pomp and dense textures of Yes with the thorny, jerky angularity of Minutemen. “Ultimate Sealed Unit” finds the Hoof making metallic grind over pulsating Phillip Glass-style minimalism, then giving way to a belligerent King Crimson-like romp. Coming across like the work of an ultra-caffeinated Arcade Fire, “When the Lightning Strikes” is an epic workout of fiercely rippling bass lines, demonic drumming, volatile dynamics and crescendos, and undulating, slightly trippy vocals from the Noisettes’ Shingai Shoniwa. The contrast-laden “Varkada Blues” features amorously cooing female voices and hellacious guttural vocals by Carcass’ Jeff Walker before finally exploding in a shower of synthesized blissed-out textures. Pick hit: “Tortured Craft,” with its irresistible reggae-flavored Midnight Oil-meets-Big Audio Dynamite oh-oh-oh hook and Shoniwa’s soulfully swaggering vocals.
Chrome Black Gold is not for those seeking a consistent listening experience: It’s a kaleidoscopic — and joyous — convergence of sounds, circumventing self-conscious quirkiness and excess. (Cuneiform Records)