Chrome Hoof, in the absence of a polite description, are mental; utterly and irrefutably bonkers. Their sonic template involves the metal-infused electronica of the mad capsule markets, the avant-garde noise-pop of Aphex twin and shades of the Butthole surfers thrown in for good measure. It’s also distressingly danceable and possessed of the sort of hooks that burrow into your subconscious for months whether you want them to or not. Welcome to ‘Crush Depth’.
Ostensibly a concept album sung from the point of view of ‘a lone ship’s biscuit’ onboard a submarine approaching crush depth, the album is a sonic maelstrom of beats, unusual instrumentation and squally vocals. The first track, ‘core delusion’ sets the scene – the sound of machinery groaning and aching in the void before ‘Crystalline’ introduces the kind of sonic deviancy rarely scene outside of a mash up between he cast of Red Dwarf and Monty Python having a sing along to Mindless Self Indulgence covering Butthole surfers’ tracks. Almost impossible to define and describe the easiest way is for you to get hold of this record and listen now – a choice you certainly won’t regret. ‘One day’ opens with a helium scream and mind-boggling time signatures and gets progressively weirder. ‘Labyrinth’ is a piano jaunt that could have been recorded in rag-time hell and which is darker and less disco-minded than the first few tracks, actually recalling the Sparks on the chorus. ‘Sea hornet’ has a tribal feel to it, albeit a tribe that records all their sounds in a ship’s kitchen, coupled with a throbbing synth line which is either out of Apocalypse Now or a porn film, depending upon which segment you here.
‘Mental Peptides’ continues the brain melting insanity, with a time signature that would have most drummers outside of a free-form jazz combo sobbing into their pint. ‘Bunkers paradise’ is a Casio keyboard demo track set to stun and filtered through the mind of a Nintendo addict. ‘Towards zero’ is almost a straight-forward pop track, albeit with elements of funk and Ska floating around in the watery mix. ‘Witches, instruments and furnaces’ is just plain creepy – a restrained soundtrack to a horror movie with overtones of Black Sabbath. ‘Third sun descendant’ is the first track that could aptly be called metal, a throbbing, pulsing beast with discordant guitars pummelling the listener into submission with a brutal, mesmerising riff. It rocks hard and blows any expectations the listener might have had left about this band clean out of the water (pun not entirely intended)!
‘Vapourise’ returns us to the unabashed craziness of the album’s opening passages – all pounding drums and relentless bass while a whistling note slowly raises in pitch as the track draws towards its end. ‘Deadly pressure’ is pure disco (or at least disco as Trent Reznor imagines it to be rather than some squalid Saturday night flesh pit) while the final track, ‘anorexic cyclops’ finishes the disc in fine, unconventional style.
It is fair to assume that despite the various bands mentioned in this review as waypoints, you’ve never heard anything like this. This is a joyous, multi-coloured burst of invention and style and deserves to be heard on a massive scale. Available as a CD or double LP from Southern Records, it should be approached with some caution – many people who have been subjected to it during the lengthy period it took me to review this platter were utterly bemused by it, but if you have a taste for interesting, unique music played with a huge sense of fun then Chrome Hoof will rock your world. A great release.