Keeping better time than a Japanese train network.
Alex Garcia-Rivera, once the drummer of American Nightmare (AKA Give Up The Ghost) and the drum technician for a whole host of other bands, has a new album out under his moniker, Chrome Over Brass. Yes, this self-titled effort is a solo album from the drummer, but don’t be deterred just yet, it’s not just percussion the whole way through. Plenty of other elements come into play across the record, from Moog synths, to fuzzy bass lines, and razor sharp guitar riffs and leads (all performed and recorded by the musician himself, mind you). All these are combined simply to fill out the songs into, you know, songs and not just solo drum pieces. So unlike say, Evan Brewer’s debut record, ‘Alone‘, which was just solely bass, this fills everything out with more instruments and musicians…kinda like Evan Brewer’s second record, ‘Your Itinerary’ (okay, I’ll stop now).
Yet one problem persists with the album and that’s seeing as it’s a “solo” record, one needs diversity for diversity's sake, as to avoid the tedium and boredom of those who aren’t already a performer of the instrument in question or who are looking for some new tunes. Honestly and unfortunately, there’s not a lot of diversity to be found here. However, to be fair, it’s a hard line to walk for most full bands, it's just this record doesn’t overcome that. Furthermore, the album isn’t quite as progressive or as virtuosic as one may think for a solo record, like you’d get in a drum book or on a solo album from Virgil Donati or Thomas Lang. Sure, Rivera is pretty damned talented behind the kit (and also on other instruments) and, no doubt about it, he has really thought about how the drums and other instruments should complement each other, it just doesn’t quite go far enough. Thus, this feels like a band forgot to record vocals and sent the mixes off to be mastered without a second thought. Playing devil's advocate, if this had vocals to it, you would have a fusion of something like Cave In, ISIS (the band, sweet shit, do I mean the band!) Converge and Old Man Gloom, and that should give you have a pretty good idea of what to expect stylistically.
It's worth suggesting though; these songs would be fantastic for a film or TV soundtrack. Oh, and speaking of which, let’s talk about the songs themselves.
The short and stop starting ‘Bear Attack’ seems to epitomise a sonic bear attack with fast fills, galloping double bass, and crust-punk beats, all filled with heavily distorted guitars and crunchy bass. Some other balls-out tracks include the short one-two of closer ‘One Night In St. Regis’, the surging two minute rager of ‘Black Rainbow’, and the blistering ‘Fighting With Tooth and Nailgun’, to name a few. All good songs, but they aren’t the ones that will really stick with you.
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Instead, those songs are the likes of the raging and tribal-like ‘Elephants Never Forget’, which is pretty crushing, sonically speaking. There’s ‘Moogs for Moderns’, a fuzzy, distorted track that makes some pretty gnarly use of the classic synth. ‘Jeeps on Safari’ reigns in the aggression and speed a bit, like Steven Fry on QI when Allen goes off on some damn tangent, and the accompanying guitars really do make this track standout. Finally, we have the groovy and fuzzy ‘Here Comes The Stukas’ (which would be a great name for a pro-fascist punk rock band), and it’s a jam for sure despite being a re-recording of an older song.
As a drummer himself, this writer can really appreciate the talent and effort put into this record, and there’s some good songs to be found on Chrome Over Brass’s self-titled effort. However, the album just doesn't go deep enough in showcasing his prowess and diversity in other styles, which is almost paramount when doing an album like this, as the drumming is just Give Up The Ghost drumming. We know you can do even better Rivera, show us up.
1. Elephants Never Forget
2. Bear Attack
3. Crush On The Derbyshire
4. Here Come The Stukas
1. Black Rainbow
2. Fighting With Tooth And Nailgun
3. Moogs For Moderns
4. Jeeps On Safari
5. One Night In St. Regis