Chrome Ghost – House of Falling Ash Review

As 2022 winds down and I retreat into my hiding spot to catch up on releases from this year that I haven’t listened to yet while working like crazy, my city is currently in flux in terms of the weather. Sure, autumn’s turning the leaves brown and the skies grey, but it’s far from California dreamin’ weather here in Florida. In fact, for the most part, it’s still downright toasty here compared to the rest of the States. And speaking of California and all things toasty, that’s the vibe I got while listening to House of Falling Ash, the third album from Roseville, California sludge/doom trio Chrome Ghost. It’s fitting, then, that my final review of the year would end up being an appropriate musical accompaniment to seasons in mid-change.

Part of that toasty, warm vibe arrives through the production and mix. Patrick Hills seemingly channeled not only the full, encompassing flood of tone from modern standard bearers such as Pallbearer and YOB, but also from the classics of yesteryear like Alice in Chains and even Fleetwood Mac. In other words, the quieter moments on here, such as the beginning of opener “Rose in Bloom” and near the end of highlight “The Furnace,” flood the ears with a comforting, almost soothing Americana-like dreamy feel that’s perfectly suited to be the polar opposite to Falling Ash’s far heavier, crushing moments, making them hit like a cinder block to the solar plexus.

Another key factor to that warmth lies in the soothing voice of guitarist Jake Kilgore. Whether he and his bandmates are musically veering out to the desert for some R&R or dropping elephants on the heads of the unsuspecting, his croons and almost gentle harmonies make an incredible anchor for both sets of sounds. The rhythm section of drummer Jacob Hurst and bassist Joe Cooper are far from slouches themselves, both comfortable in either providing the necessary respite for breathing room, or caving the listener’s bodies in with a wall of sound. Between the four proper songs (out of six), all three men deftly weave between sun-drenched tranquility and anvil-flattening girth with the grace of those who came before.

Sadly, House of Falling Ash suffers from the same fate that even the classic bands of yesterday experienced from time to time, and that’s bloat. All four of the non-instrumentals all contain parts that far outstay their welcomes. Opener “Rose in Bloom” could have about 3-4 minutes of repetition shaved off its gargantuan 14-minute jaunt, as could the closing 13-minute title track. The latter also contains the most of Kilgore’s death growls which, while serviceable, don’t easily match his phenomenal singing voice. Another problem is in two instrumentals that pad out the album. “In the Tall Grass,” while the more effective of the two, feels like it could have been a bit longer to create some sort of build-up or tension, whereas “Bloom (Reprise)” doesn’t need to be on here at all.

Despite the issues, I dug the vibe given by House of Falling Ash. The heady mix of American doom metal, grunge, and Americana might not be necessarily new at this point, few can still marry the three sounds this well. Given some trimming and tightening, Chrome Ghost could stand out among the heap of American doom bands emerging over the last decade. I have no problem with waiting to see what they come up with next down the line.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seeing Red Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 28th, 2022

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