Jun 2018 26

Category: Industrial / Rock
Blurb: The influences are obvious and the production is less-than-stellar, but this New Jersey band’s debut album is still a confident display of harshly industrialized rock and metal.


Listening to the self-titled debut from Hawthorne, New Jersey’s CHMCL STR8JCKT, it’s clear the band has an affinity for the earlier modes of industrialized rock and metal. Indeed, throughout each of the album’s eight tracks, Mike Cairoli’s guitars screech and seethe with the kind of fury perfect for boot stomping, teeth grinding, and fist pumping. All the while, the pulsating electronics and beats slither by with the sort of rhythmic aplomb that is sure to put some in mind of early ‘90s acts like Diatribe, The Aggression, and even Cubanate. Topping off the whole package is Kevin Snell’s vocals, all of which are delivered in a familiar atonal drawl through various distorted filters that thankfully do not obscure his lyrics as to render them completely indecipherable, although this writer would advise that further restraint be exercised on further releases.

As is not to be unexpected for an independent debut release, the production is where CHMCL STR8JCKT shows its greatest weaknesses. For example, the percussive barrage of “One Last Salute” is quite impressive, with the guitars providing enough scorching riffs to keep the adrenaline levels on high, but the vocal distortion runs the risk of obscuring Snell’s words. This along with the layers of synths and samples, which are by no means impotent by comparison but could use some finessing in the mix, makes the track somewhat lacking in the power it deserves. Another example would be in “House Upon the Hill,” which stands as the album’s most danceable moment and most indicative of the band’s WaxTrax! influences, the vocals sparse but catchy, the synths bouncy and striking. And yet, for all its groove, there is a lack of power behind the track that gives it a kind of emptiness that this writer can’t help but compare to the character of a ‘90s rave. One of the album’s better tracks is “Dead Flat Black,” the percolating synths and sustained guitar arpeggios scraping through the speakers as Snell’s distorted guttural chants evoke an early Nitzer Ebb vibe, although it somehow sounds less menacing than may have been intended, while the overdriven pianos and spastic drumbeats of “Iron Virtue” giving rise to explosive layers of synth and guitar, making for a rather bombastic and memorable track.

CHMCL STR8JCKT is a rather confident exhibition of the band’s harshly metallic industrial sound, with the songs themselves showing some level of constructive craft. Much has been made of the band’s affinity for the machine/rock and industrial/metal titans of the past like PIG and MINISTRY, but with this debut now out of the way, CHMCL STR8JCKT should make some effort to shed these influences and craft a more distinct identity. Some refinement in the production and mix is highly recommended as well (sure to be heard with the legendary John Bechdel at the helm of the band’s next effort), but as debut albums go, CHMCL STR8JCKT is quite a punch to the gut and should please genre fans at the very least.
Track list:

  1. Dressed to Kill
  2. One Last Salute
  3. Dead Flat Black
  4. Fell Apothecary and the Sodomy Narc
  5. House Upon the Hill
  6. Silver or Lead
  7. Iron Virtue
  8. Today the Devil Dies

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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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