Saturday, August 6, 2011

Album Review: Chemtrail - Youth Obsessed Death Culture

A very cool work of instrumental and post-rock, New Jersey project Chemtrail released a new album a month or three back, entitled Youth Obsessed Death Culture. The music was essentially a blend of all that's emotional and powerful and attainable to the common listener. With a five member setup and three guitarists (one alternating on keys), there's much more potential for additions to sound than there would be in any four-man setup, and Chemtrail takes full advantage of this, bringing out as much harmonizing as they can, to ultimately bring a fantastic record from beginning to end.

Even from the very beginning of "Peace Weapon", the opener on the album, there was a lot of potential to be had. They open with warm synth, mellow guitar, and a pounding on the keyboard, with an emotional vibe similar to the feel of "Aphelion", from the Moving Mountains debut Pneuma. However, as things opened up, the mood of the song warmed up to be as bright as the brilliant synths, with a radiant demeanor that screamed feel-good music, as guitars struck heartfelt chords and the piano complemented to open the chords up even further, creating a hugely dynamic sound in a seemingly simple song. As the song faded out, the semblance of the song remained as the synths flowed seamlessly into the following track, "Honorable Mention".

On a completely different note, "Mischief Night" felt completely different in opening, taking on a lot more of a traditional rock feel, but were still able to achieve much more with the three guitar setup, providing a lot more depth and tonal disparity by having two distorted guitars and one clean playing above. The interesting part of the track is that it still has the gut-wrenching melancholy from the more mellow tracks from before, but also shared a lot in common with "San Pablo" from Mogwai's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, with a similar progression and similarly complex track development. It showed off how Chemtrail's array of influences tie into how they can branch out but also share the fantastic core sound of the band.

The depth of this album is nigh indescribable, with the creativity and the setup both playing into how well this release surpasses many others this year. With variety in tracks like "Honorable Mention", "Space Invaders", and "Think Tank", I honestly can't say there was a moment that I disliked on the album in it's ~51-minute entirety. There is, however, a lot to like for folks that aren't too into post-rock, because of the vast number of influences on the band and the way they integrate those into their music. Being only the third release from Chemtrail, I'm indeed excited to see what else lies in store for their future.

You can find a free online stream and a download in your favorite file format on Chemtrail's Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
1) Peace Weapon
2) Honorable Mention
3) Space Invaders
4) Mischief Night
5) Means to an End
6) Safety Feature
7) Solid Ground
8) Think Tank
9) Escape Artist

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