Late last year, my friend Scott added a Philadelphia-based band called Chromelodeon to the roster on his Bloodlink record label. The band initially piqued my interest with a nine-song EP called The Dark Sword of Chaos, which was dedicated exclusively to the music from Ninja Gaiden II, the second installment in the greatest video game series of all time. It was clear that these guys shared my enthusiasm for the game, and they brought its music into an epic rock context that served it quite well. But since video game cover bands with limited appeal have been coming out of the woodwork for the last couple of years, I didn’t bother to look into what else Chromelodeon had to offer, even though I knew they had original material. Seeing them play with the Minibosses this past weekend changed my mind. And then some.
I sized them up as they started setting up onstage. Eight guys in the band, none of whom look much older than twenty-one or so. Two guitars, bass, drums, violin, accordion, an array of analogue synthesizers (including a keytar), a lo-fi lighting rig, and two projectors for visuals. This was either going to be a formless, cacophonous art project, or something really special. Whatever the outcome, I was already impressed by its ambition.
Given the band’s numbers, it is not surprising that Chromelodeon’s sound is huge. What is surprising is just how unique that sound is, encompassing punk ethos, prog atmospherics, and gamer geekery. Its guitars channel Godspeed You Black Emperor’s symphonic grandiosity, replacing the cynicism with a sense of wonder and adding a touch of metal bravado; fantasy-tinged synth lines recall a decidedly 8-bit Nintendo aesthetic; and the accordion and violin peppered throughout provide a subtle European folk texture.
Throughout the show, though, it was that aforementioned ambition, that potential, that really struck me. Once they started playing, I wasn’t just excited about what they were doing at that moment—which was awesome—but what I could imagine them doing in another year or two. Between their ostensible youth and their distinctive melodic sensibilities, it’s not hard to imagine their material evolving quickly, producing ever more sophisticated arrangements. I could already see it happening at the show—the as-yet-unreleased material they played was that much more invigorating than the great stuff they’ve already recorded.
The future looks bright for Chromelodeon. I am anxious to find out what they have in store.