November 12, 2018 Chrome Division – One Last Ride (Album Review)
Norwegian Rock-n-Roll outfit Chrome Division have decided their fifth effort, aptly titled One Last Ride, due November 16th on Nuclear Blast, will, indeed, be their last.
An idea that spawned in the late nineties as an aside for Dimmu Borgir Vocalist Shagrath and then-Dimmu Bassist Nagash, Chrome Division eventually has grown into a wild behemoth in the fifteen years since. Making an impression with their 2006 debut album Doomsday Rock ‘n Roll, content to confine himself to rhythm guitar, Shagrath was joined by Drummer Tony White (formerly of Minas Tirith and literal one-time member of Old Man’s Child), Bassist Björn Luna, Lead Guitarist Ricky Black, and Vocalist Eddie Guz (then and now of the Carburetors, an outfit of similar style and repute). This same lineup returned for Booze, Broads and Beelzebub in 2008, but by the time the faithful reconvened for 2011’s 3rd Round Knockout, Shady Blue (Pål “Athera” Mathiesen of Susperia) stepped in as lead vocalist.
Now returning for their first, and last, album since 2014’s Infernal Rock Eternal, Chrome Division is configured with Shagrath, Tony White, Lead Guitarist Kjell Aage Karlsen aka Mr Damage, and Eddie Guz returning on lead vocals. Additionally, on One Last Ride, it is Ogee (Åge Trøite) is no longer bass, with Shagrath handling the duties for this final spin.
A total of twelve new songs, the proceedings begin with “Return from the Wastelands,” a quick, trite intro that sets the stage for our five heroes taking one final ride across the self-imposed wasteland of chrome, women, and liquor. Eddie Guz often sounds like Lee Dorrian doing an impression of James Hetfield or Chuck Billy—but in a good way—and that complimentary mixture starts with “So Fragile” and its collection of “ye-ahs” and “alrights.” Follower “Walk Away in Shame” features a guest vocalist, Pop singer Miss Selia, a first for the band (female or otherwise), and a fitting contrast to the gravel soundtrack of Guz.
Meanwhile, the meandering rhythm guitar work at the halfway mark of “Back in Town” is infectiously impressive, followed by a scorching lead work that brings the track back into proper focus. There are some songs on One Last Ride that seem to wander off into the head space of one member or another, but this track is not one of them; here, everyone works their ass off together, even on the chorus, to deliver an impressive, catchy track.
One Last Ride is full of some vast, intricate guitar work from Mr Damage, and the gruff, painful vocals of Eddie Guz add some strength and dirt to the band’s image. Furthermore, in tribute to their Motörhead roots, the bass work is often on equal standing, especially on tracks like “The Call.” Later, “You Are Dead to Me” is a bit of a caustic send-off for a departed love interested (“old lady”, to use the parlance of the Chrome Division world), and uses several different portions to further flesh out some bass work, before another collection of guitar solos takes over.
The members list outfits like Black Label Society and AC/DC as influences, as well as Motörhead. That said, Van Halen comes through a bit as well, particularly on “This One Is Wild,” which is a bit of nod toward the David Lee Roth era, for both guitar and vocals; the song also manages to swipe a gallop from Iron Maiden (while also managing to fast-forward to “Hangar 18” by Megadeth). An uncredited female voice, perhaps Miss Selia, helps bring the song home. While historical markers for those influences are present, the freshness of the underlying band comes through, and Chrome Division are able to meld their childhood heroes into a unique lasting style. Finally, “Towards the Unknown” is a fitting end; the music itself already sounds as if the valiant members have disappeared back into the shadows of their black metal roots, while the narrator confirms this paradigm shift, broken only by a slow procession of motorcycle exhaust draped across the speakers.
While other bands of this elk made up of veteran metalheads are perhaps more accurate with their styling – Witchery and Gruesome come to mind – Chrome Division deserves more than passing respect due to the fact that their chosen style is that much more of a departure from the day jobs of its lineup. The songwriting on One Last Ride is not always the deepest, but the impressive work from Mr Damage is always something to wait for.
On a few tracks, such as, “I’m on Fire Tonight” and “Staying Until the End,” this anticipation is the only saving grace. Also worth noting, for some special editions of One Last Ride, the band recorded a Spanish version of “I’m on Fire Tonight”; Vocalist Eddie Guz is Chilean by birth, and the band wanted to reward their loyal fans in South America. In the same vein, the slightly awkward anthem “We Drink” is bailed out (pun intended) by some impressive wall-climbing guitar work. For all these reasons Cryptic Rock is pleased to award Chrome Division’s last wild ride 4 out of 5 stars.