Band: Chest Rockwell
Band Website: www.myspace.com/chestrockwell
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2007
In certain circles there is a sub-genre of the progressive rock movement that’s called Alt-prog. Now some people dislike the term, but to my way of thinking it’s not a bad descriptive for bands that come from a very modern alternative rock style and then inject into that a whole load of progressive tendencies. There is no hint of retro to the music created by these bands and yet it sounds very much prog. That’s where I find myself putting a band like Chest Rockwell. This quartet has a very modern rock sensibility, but what they do with their musical skills is very progressive indeed. And it’s all on display on Chest Rockwell vs. The World. The four members of Chest Rockwell include Josh Hines (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard), Nick Rouse (drums, percussion, keyboard), Nick Stewart (bass, keyboard), and Seth Wilson (guitar, keyboard). Now right off the bat you’re probably thinking with all four guys playing keyboards this is going to sound pretty symphonic. And you would be wrong. The music created here places an emphasis on both electric and acoustic guitars, while the keyboards seem to take a backseat, used more for subtle accents or background.
Chest Rockwell vs. The World gets off to a rousing start with the short atmospheric, sound effects of “What Atrocities Are These?” (1:24) before moving into “La Fin Absolue Du Monde” (8:18) and these two tracks set the tone for the whole album. The compositions crafted by Chest Rockwell are complex pieces with many moving parts. A song will start with a pleasant and almost majestic acoustic guitar riff or arpeggio and then suddenly take on a denser movement with some keyboard backing before suddenly launching into a full blown assault. There are eight tracks on the CD and three of them are in the eight-minute range while most of the others are around four-minutes. But all the tracks are linked together making it tricky to hear when one becomes the next; which is fine, because it makes for one sonically moving pallet. Expect to hear lots of aggressive alternative grunge styled guitar work alternating with some Steve Hackett styled guitar work. And then at other times a sonic assault of guitar distortion mixed with softer Anthony Phillips styled minimalist acoustic guitar and synthesizer work. Maybe it’s just my ears, but the vocals go a long way to me hearing Chest Rockwell with the alternative influence. The vocals are hyper and at times forced. They fit the music the music and really add to the overall youthful flavour of the band.
Chest Rockwell is a really cool band. It’s always great to hear a new take on the progressive rock genre and these guys have a very unique sound and style. They play well together, shifting gears all the time within their compositions, going fast to slow, loud to soft and changing the mood in a heartbeat. Great stuff and not the usual fare. I’d recommend Chest Rockwell to prog fans that are looking for something different that embodies the old and the new. This might be perfect to play to friends unfamiliar with the progressive genre, something to expand their listening palette. I’m looking forward to seeing where these guys take their music.