Chrome Division // 3rd Round Knockout
Rating: 3.5/5.0 —Best Norwegian southern rock biker band ever!
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: chromedivision.com | myspace.com/chromedivision
Release Dates: EU: 2011.05.06 | US: 07.06.2011
Have you ever wondered what a group of Norwegian black metal musicians might sound like if they played greasy biker rock? Well wonder no more, just hunker down with a case of brews and Chrome Division. Featuring Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) on guitar and members of Old Man’s Child and Ringnevond, Chrome Division delivers something like a drunken mixture of ZZ Top, The Misfits, Venom and Lynyrd Skynyrd. There’s nary a cold, icy riff to be found on their new album 3rd Round Knockout and instead you get rowdy, raucous, ribald and very adolescent rock/metal that’s actually exceedingly well done. This is well written, catchy, fun and highly addictive stuff and it even leaves behind much of the Motorhead worship found on their earlier albums. Its an alcohol fueled party album that virtually forces you to pop open a cold one as you listen. How can anything that drives you to drink be bad?
Opener “Bulldogs Unleashed” is thrashy, noisy and very immediate. You get raspy, whiskey soaked vocals, sharp, smart rock/metal riffing and lyrics that revolve around stale beer, strip clubs and loose women, all with tongue firmly planted in cheek. New vocalist Athera (Susperia) has a great biker tough growl and Shagrath and Ricky Black lay down a plethora of memorable licks (check out the cool riffing at 1:36 on). From there its one party metal monster after another and ALL are catchy and rockin. The first big moment comes with the raise-your-glasses drinking metal of “Join The Ride” which lurches unexpectedly into poignant southern rock and somehow does both equally well (here’s where I point out that any Norwegian band convincingly pulling off southern rock deserves some props). Also of unexpectedly high quality is the rough rock of “Unholy Roller,” the bluesy bayou swagger of “The Magic Man” and the total metal injection of “Zombies and Monsters.” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their cover of the oft-covered “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The way they throw themselves into this classic country-western song with so much abandon makes it pretty damn irresistible (although it’s plenty silly too).
It’s a dead heat between the vocals and the guitars for what makes 3rd Round Knockout work so well. Athera really goes balls out on the mic and despite the surprising variety of styles Chrome Division tries their hand at, he manages to do them all justice and then some. Shagrath and Ricky Black let it all hang out guitar-wise and their riff and lead work brings to mind the best moments of Fireball Ministry and Black Label Society. Every single track has its own merits and this truly is a cohesive party/drinking album of high quality. No filler, no wasted space, just the hits.
Whether or not this album clicks with you will depend on how serious you need your music and lyrics to be and whether or not you have a sense of humor. If you don’t have one, you best steer clear of this boozy train wreck. If this album had an I.Q. it would be sub-moron and it should come in a beer stained container. It’s knuckleheaded neanderthal metal with few if any redeeming social qualities but hey, that’s so fucking metal isn’t it? I proudly support Norwegian dudes playing American biker metal mixed with southern rock, country western and the blues. If you don’t, then you simply don’t know how to party. Now where’s the beer and stripper I was promised?