Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Sharma – Chaosmopolitan
Sometimes an album comes along that makes me stop and go “WHOA!!! What was that?!?!?!?” Upon my first listen to Sharma’s latest effort Chaosmopolitan, I had just such a moment. The kind of moment that makes you question yourself: Was that as amazing as I think it was??? Truth be told, I listened to the promo on their Bandcamp page, but was with family over the holidays at the time and only listened to several songs before turning it off so as not be the brother/son/uncle in the corner being antisocial. Later, much to my dismay, when I went back to continue listening to it I discovered that my free promo was no longer accessible, so I pulled it up and streamed it on YouTube, then promptly went back to the Bandcamp page and bought it. I paid for it in Kroner. I’ve never paid for anything in Kroner. I’m actually surprised I remembered that the currency of Norway is Kroner! Luckily, the interwebs sites like Bandcamp are equipped to tell ignorant ‘Mericans like me how much the cost of an album in Kroner is in U.S. dollars. Getting it was the easy part though; the challenge would be where to start writing about an album with such a vast scope of styles and influences.
Anyways, I digress…”Welcome To The Show” goes off like a bomb to the ears with a thrash metal guitar riff and thunderous drums behind an angry melodic vocal attack not unlike early Chris Cornell. “The Cryptid” displays elements of Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave style staccato guitar and bass riffs with a feel reminiscent of the mighty Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” “Somebody (Call An Ambulance)” continues with a steady driving rhythm with more Audioslave-era Cornellian (I did it again, I made up another word…) vocal performance. There is a subtle psychedelic feel underlying many of the songs with trippy sound effects, but the riffs are always massive and in the forefront. “Our Sin When Gear” features vocals that are more aggressive, like a grittier Steven Tyler with anger management issues. “Where The Buffalos Roam” takes a definitive left turn at Albuquerque, with a very Queens Of The Stone Age chugging riff with a distinct desert rock feel that would feel right at home next to Josh Homme & Co.’s “No One Knows.” Title track “Chaosmopolitan” conjures up thoughts of a heavier, more fuzzed out Velvet Revolver or Audioslave, before a lead break that’s straight out of the thrash metal double-time solo breakdown handbook. “Daddy’s Porcelain Doll” could have been ripped from a mid 90’s Stone Temple Pilots or Soundgarden album, while “Trancylvania” features spacey vocals over bass guitar before erupting into wall-of-sound choruses leaden with pounding drums and super-distorted rhythm guitars with Morello-esque lead melodies woven throughout. “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” is a furious thrashfest with vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on any self-respecting Death Angel album. “Sea Of Excuses” once again has a very Audioslave feel, while “Skulls On The Floor” has a stoner-rock vibe with staccato guitar riffs punctuated by funky bass riffs, more angry Steven Tyler vocals and a brilliant solo break. “Hypercritical” begins with one of the greatest guitar melodies on the album, which thankfully is repeated over each chorus, but the beautiful mellower verses are what really set this one apart and it is easily one of the highlights of the album. “Stretched Like A Toy” has what could be described as something like a dance beat with a techno-ish synth riff with guitars underneath before the guitars break out over the choruses, leading into a solo break that sounds like a 90125-era Trevor Rabin/Yes harmonized guitar solo on steroids. “The Brink Of Strange” blends elements of Kashmir-feel Zeppelin blended with QOTSA style vocals and guitars, then boils down into a sludgy low-end breakdown with psychedelic noises in the background. Finisher “The Anchor” has an Angus Young flavored lead melody opening the song, then turns into a mid-tempo stomp, then takes a left turn into a doom-metal lead guitar break with killer NWOBHM inspired riffs, then takes yet another left turn into a guttural vocal section right out of the death metal handbook of heavy that brings this leviathan of an album to an end.
My only very minor complaints would be that the production is a bit rough around the edges, and that the album is only available via digital download, so I couldn’t add it to my vinyl or cd libraries, but the music is the important thing, I suppose my collector-nerd compulsion will have to be sated elsewhere. Surely (insert “Airplane” joke here…”don’t call me Shirley”), Chaosmopolitan is a phenomenon to be experienced as much as listened to, as many times as I used comparisons to bands from the Cornell-isphere (another new one haha!) QOTSA and others, they don’t truly do this album justice, they’re just the closest ways I could come up with to describe it. The album has that “familiar” feel without being a clone of anything else in any way. Perhaps that’s what makes it feel so immediately accessible? I don’t know, all I can say is GO LISTEN TO THE ALBUM. I did. Boy, am I glad I did.