Chrome

3rd from the Sun

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Given how good the Edge/Creed/Stench lineup was, the fact that they never properly toured outside two dates -- one in San Francisco and the other, bizarrely, in Italy -- is all the more regrettable. Continuing the blend of straight-up rock crunch and crumbling weirdness that made the Chrome name, 3rd is both just accessible and just gone enough. Opening track "Firebomb" sets the stage well -- Edge sings in deep basso profundo mode, the Stench brothers keep the beat going, and Creed unleashes more incredible, strong soloing to go with his crisp rhythm work. It's another shoulda-been new wave classic that would still seem out of place among its fellows. From there it's another trip into the "not quite right" -- "Armageddon" is especially strong, an eight-minute slow burn toward doom with overly appropriate downbeat rhythms. Creed once again shines with his heavily treated fretwork; when toward the end he tracks two separate solos playing off each other, things really go to town. Another spooky highlight of his work is "Off the Line," where more upfront death dirges are alternated with buried, creepy effects in the background. Creed gets in some vocal fun as well -- at least, assuming it is him given the constant production treatments -- on "Heart Beat," his distorted words sneaking around the crisp beat and wheezing keyboards as well as the usual addition of feedback crunch. The title track was suitably freaked out and heavy enough for Prong to cover it years later on their Beg to Differ album. Though Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" may seem an obvious source of inspiration, the distorted vocals and steady beats come much more from Chrome's collective brain.

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