Chrome The Visitation LP reissue

CHROME’s 1976 debut LP sounds like coke sweats made flesh, like paranoia dripping from a ravaged sinus cavity, like the ’70s got sucked into a blacklight poster and emerged from a wormhole on the other side of the galaxy. It seems improbable that CHROME could exist without Helios Creed’s guitar wizardry front and center (or panned hard left/right), but this first version of CHROME has plenty to offer the wayward weirdos of the world. Like a speedfreak SILVER APPLES, “How Many Years Too Soon” comes thundering in on a jet plane and the panic rock only escalates from there. Someone left The Visitation out in the sun for too long—it’s got such a peculiar flavor, like it’s curdled but still delicious. Coming off like a degenerate PERE UBU, “Return To Zanzibar” is a moody garage-rocker that got kidnapped by space pirates armed with radio samples and primitive synthesizers, while “Caroline” is a pit stop at the sleaziest club in the quadrant. “Riding You” opens with a windblown sound piece that you’d expect to hear on a new age meditation tape, until it turns menacing like something nasty is coming over the horizon; the song itself is a slinking, winking rocker as if ALICE COOPER tried to write a disco track to impress someone. “Kinky Lover” takes that sound to its logical conclusion and only WICKED WITCH could dare draw back the heavy curtains that shrouds it. Sure, GEORGE BRIGMAN could have written “Sun Control,” but would he have bothered to add the backwards tapes and the chirping synths? CHROME creator Damon Edge is going for broke on this album, playing half the instruments and taking charge of the mic like he failed the KING CRIMSON audition and now he’s into punk so watch the fuck out. Final track “Memory Cords Over the Bay” perfectly sets the scene for Helios Creed to enter, stage left (hard-panned).

Chrome Scaropy CD

As society continues to suck on a tailpipe, you’ve gotta ask yourself: does CHROME age like fine wine? Accompanied by a cast of characters that includes the bassist from CHROME’s early ’80s firebomb heyday, Helios Creed keeps the flame, if not quite burning bright, at least lit. “H Of Spades,” with its tractor-beam guitar set to maximum gravitational pull, seems teleported in from one of his late ’80s AmRep albums. But the majority of Scaropy (oof) is tired goth rock with industrial overtones, like some kinda bargain bin ALIEN SEX FIEND (who already take up plenty of shelf space in the discount aisle). Much of this album sounds like backing tracks for a stripper scene in a straight-to-video dystopian thriller. “An Open Letter” has a decent edge even if its chorus is “I won’t / Take your shit.” As the end approaches, CHROME finally delves into the sounds that first distinguished the group all those years ago. “They’re Coming To Get You” takes an android shuffle and slathers it with the kind of warped voices that is practically a trademark, while “Kilauea” sinks even deeper into paranoid murk. Not a bad batch after all, but far from a triumph.