The packaging for this CD by Vancouver, BC band Krome is rather uninspiring, being a mocked-up picture of an amplifier with the text on the speaker and amp head showing the name of the band and the album respectively – it’s familiar because we’ve used the such same gimmick in the wall of Music Vice amplifiers that have been the background art on this website since forever! I think we did it better too, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, let’s forget about the lacklustre artwork, what about the music?
On first play of the opening track “Turn It Up”, I gave it a chance and obeyed the chorus line by reaching for the volume control and hitting the up arrow. “Turn It Up” is a bite-size blast of generic (North) American hard rock. For a moment I was having fun, going along with it… With the music straight from the `80’s era of stadium rock, (think more along the lines of Skid Row than AC/DC), it’s pretty simple stuff with a ‘hell yeah’ party vibe. For a visual reference, imagine this song being used as the soundtrack to a scene in some eighties movie, where a bunch of American college kids are being all rebellious by driving to a party in a pick-up truck while drinking cans of Bud and embarking on PG-rated shenanigans. There’s big riffing, plenty of crashing cymbals and the whole song is stuck on that one vocal hook of ‘Turn It Up’. After just one minute the song is already building up to the outro, then there’s a solo and it’s all over in just over two minutes. It’s quick and painless, and you know, not bad at all for what it is, but generic as hell. And oh so short.
That first song is about about as condensed as you could ever make a hard rock song and a big indicator of what you can expect from the rest of the album, as eight out of the ten tracks are around two minutes in length and the total duration of Kronic Rock is 21.54. That’s Ramones territory! Or Black Flag, or… well, you get the picture. And that’s with a few seconds of dead air included at the end of every song too! This is not what you’d expect from a hard rock band, but the short running time reveals a lack of substance to everything; a major lack of depth, diversity and imagination.
Most of the songs whizz by with a repeated pattern, with the song title of each song usually being both the main hook and lyrical content, then chuck in a solo, and before you know it you’re onto the next track for more of the same. For an example of how unbelievably repetitive this gets, Krome actually go as far as to have one song on Kronic Rock called “Rock With Me” then another called “Roll With Me”. It’s very much a ‘Rock by Numbers’ effort. The lyrics are old hat, consisting of tired old rock slogans that you’ve heard a thousand times before, including the use of the word ‘rock’ as a verb as often as possible.
In 2010 we have seen an increasing number of bands come to the fore with a sound largely inspired by ’70’s and ’80’s heavy rock. Bands have been bringing back something that’s been widely missing from rock music for a while, since everything went digital – there is a truth and soul coming back into rock music. (You can read more about this emerging heavy rock revival in my recent interview with Ian Blurton.) There was a lot of potential for a band like Krome to jump aboard the revival bandwagon by tapping into the other side of rock music from the past, by paying homage to the arena rock side of things, with all the party anthems and such. The failure of Krome is that they have imitated and brought nothing new to the table: It’s just a rehash where they have attempted to make things more contemporary, shorter and, ergo, ‘radio-friendly’. The end result is transparent, generic pap. See “TMZ”, where Krome rhyme ‘Tommy Lee’ with ‘TMZ’ while proclaiming their aspirations to be featured on the celebrity-stalking paparazzi outlet. (Worryingly, tongue does not appear to be planted in cheek, either.) While in the case of the second track “Let’s Go All The Way”, it’s time for a game of ‘Name That Tune’ with a song that sounds a whole lot like Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and also Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. What a rip.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice