Chrome Ghost summons giant waves of sound
“My mind is slowly being infiltrated with the insanity that goes on in their brains,” says bassist Joe Cooper as he leans against a far wall inside the crowded rehearsal studio of melodic doom metal band Chrome Ghost.
He’s referring to band mates, Jake Kilgore (vocals/guitar) and Jacob Hurst (drums), who formed the band in 2015 and instantly connected through the depths of heavy music and their respect for the classic groups such as Black Sabbath, Sleep and the Melvins.
Their latest album The Diving Bell hit 10,000 streams on Spotify last month. It’s nearly 40 minutes of intense compositions that crest and fall between softer moments of melancholia to swells of aggressive guitar reverberating through Kilgore’s hypnotic vocals and calming melodies.
“What interests me is taking all of these genre expectations and flipping them by integrating all kinds of elements that aren’t necessarily common to hear,” Kilgore says. “We all listen to a dramatically wide spectrum of music. The challenge and the fun for me is to take all of these disparate elements and then bringing them in to something that a fan of this type of music could enjoy.”
Every note, every decision serves its purpose through the ominous caverns of The Diving Bell. Whether it’s a soothing three- or four-part harmony with beautiful tones, or the more guttural growls that can be a bit disarming, the members of Chrome Ghost tell foreboding stories through sound.
“It’s like genre fiction. You can convey different messages through it like how we’re approaching metal music,” Hurst says. “We have these delicate parts and heavy parts and acoustic guitar that work well within the genre too, so that things are more visual.”
When writing lyrics, Kilgore says he’s inspired by Renaissance paintings, pulp-era paperback novels, nature and Gothic imagery. It’s all used to convey a mood through music.
“There is a very romantic tense to the way that everything is presented,” he says. “We’re not a weed-smoking, whiskey-drinking, hail-Satan type of band at all.”
Throughout Chrome Ghost’s body of work, including The Diving Bell and the band’s first EP, Reflection Pool, there are recurring themes of water, which is an allegory for anxiety, introspection, isolation, the calm and the chaos.
It all happened organically during Kilgore’s writing process, he says, but it was something that Hurst picked up on quickly.
“There’s this weird ephemeral quality water has. It’s dangerous, but also safe. It’s vital,” Hurst says. “It’s peaceful and terrifying. If you’re in the middle of the ocean, you’re in the loneliest place in the world.”
Chrome Ghost’s use of reverb throughout the album creates these grandiose walls of sound that are both fluid and moody, developing an ethereal time warp through songs such as its title track, a dramatic, 14-minute composition.
“You can hide behind these giant waves of sound, but we don’t ever stay with that,” Kilgore says. “At some point, the smoke clears and then there’s a little piece of our identity in there to be seen by changing the dynamic or the lyrics or the mood. Our choices are all very instinctual. It’s telling in a way, it’s not a performative thing, it’s more of an introspective thing.”
Chrome Ghost’s upcoming album release show on March 19 at Harlow’s is with Oregon doom metal band YOB and will mark its first live performance in more than five months. But Kilgore says they’ve each gained a change of perspective during the break and look forward to an upcoming eight-day tour in May with Aequorea from Nevada City, as well as performing at Litha Cascadia festival in Washington and the Mid-State Metal Fest in San Luis Obispo.
“We’re actually bringing back some old songs that we haven’t played for a long time and potentially for later on in the year,” Kilgore says. “To play these songs is fun, but in the back of my mind, I’m just really excited about what’s coming next.”
“We never stop,” Hurst adds.