posted on 9/2011 By:
Chrome Pineal is a new EP release from Ramesses, the heavy sludge/doom/stoner act formed in 2003 by the former rhythm section of Electric Wizard. For the uninitiated, Ramesses uses many of the more characteristic traits of EW – lumbering Sabbath doom and massively fuzzy guitar tone – and filters it through an almost Winterish level of raw and primal acridity.
And yet, the main focus of this EP, the title track, has very little at all to do with the band’s primary sound. It is instead a nearly 10-minute hazy jam of 60s- and 70s-styled psychedelic rock, the kind typically interspersed in the music of stoner metal’s more space-exploring acts. Its gradual growth to barely-metal territory at about the 6-minute mark is quite effective, and overall the song is equally effective in a moody sense, gearing the listener up for more of the same. Problem: there is no more of the same. The rest of Chrome Pineal utilizes Ramesses’ normal style, which would be fine if it felt at all connected to the title track; or if anything after the groove-ridden “Blazoned Fauna” was really worth being released.
The rest includes a throwaway studio track (“Men of Honor”) and three live versions of songs from throughout their career. The moderate strength of the original compositions is evident in the live tracks (especially the fuzz-ridden “Before the Jackals”), but the quality of the recordings is too much of a cymbal-drenched din for even the most seasoned of lo-fi vets. Tinny drumming and sloppy playing hurt the songs, but it is the aforementioned sound (un)quality that really kills most of the impact and dynamics that Ramesses means to bring. While some may appreciate the roots-metal quality herein, the only people who will go back to these versions are those that actually attended the shows at which they were taped.
In short, everything after track two of Chrome Pineal has a tacked-on-just-to-be-tacked-on feel, adding very little if anything to the overall experience. And yes, this fault applies to the majority of the world’s EPs, which is exactly why most of them are either utter shit or for-fans-only releases. Chrome Pineal just barely squeaks by qualifying for the latter. Established Ramesses fans will appreciate the first couple of songs and aspects of the live recordings, but most of Chrome Pineal barely passes the curiosity level of necessity.
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