Cal­liope’s third al­bum blends head-bang­ing stoner-rock with mes­mer­iz­ing psy­che-rock

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Mike Hol­loway Staff writer

There is a sense of loom­ing doom on Mil­wau­kee psy­che-rock band Cal­liope’s lat­est re­lease, Chapel Per­ilous, but its mem­bers don’t seem to mind as they be­come lost in 10 tracks of un­der­ly­ing synth, staggering gui­tar riffs and trance-like vo­cals.

Chapel Per­ilous, the third re­lease from Cal­liope, was recorded in the iso­la­tion of the north­ern Wis­con­sin woods, just like the 2014 al­bum ORBIS. If I didn’t al­ready know this be­fore my first lis­ten, I would’ve guessed that the new al­bum was recorded dur­ing the length of a mo­tor­cy­cle trek across the desert, with noth­ing but a bot­tom­less sup­ply of psy­che­delic drugs and whiskey on deck.

Through­out the al­bum, Cal­liope blends head­bang­ing stoner-rock with mes­mer­iz­ing psy­che-rock songs.

The al­bum kicks off with “As­tral Hand,” which wastes no time in es­tab­lish­ing the gloomy-yetup­beat aura that en­com­passes the length of the al­bum. Vo­cal­ist Al Krae­mer’s dron­ing, hyp­no­tiz­ing vo­cals cap­ture your at­ten­tion, mak­ing sure you’re along for the whole ride.

The tracks be­gin to open up af­ter­ward, with “Carry Me Home” mark­ing the first of the more in­stru­ment-driven ones, laden with psy­che­delic gui­tar so­los. Whereas the back­bone of a band is usu­ally the bass gui­tar, Cal­liope’s synth fleshes out the songs with sus­tained, eerie chords, which are om­nipresent.

“Dunes” is the first of two in­stru­men­tal breaks on the al­bum, dur­ing which the gui­tar ef­fects am­plify the senses, pro­duc­ing a calm, dream-like at­mos­phere. “Sea of Red” is one of the sin­gles from the al­bum and is one of the most up­beat, cul­mi­nat­ing in a head-bang­ing ex­plo­sion of lay­ered gui­tars. “Chapel Per­ilous” switches things up and puts the synth at the fore­front, giv­ing Krae­mer a chance to show­case his key­board skills as well as his vo­cals. The al­bum’s fi­nale, “Lit­tle Smoke,” is the other in­stru­men­tal track, and by far the most fore­bod­ing. The en­tire al­bum is a jour­ney of the senses and the mind, and “Lit­tle Smoke” marks a gloomy end, the sober­ing up of the lis­tener — or per­haps death it­self.

Lis­ten­ing to Chapel Per­ilous is an ex­pe­ri­ence, one that will trans­port you else­where when you close your eyes. For me, it was some­where sur­rounded by desert, rem­i­nis­cent of Jim Mor­ri­son’s vi­sions in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. In fact, Cal­liope em­braces the same dark tones The Doors and Vel­vet Un­der­ground of­ten uti­lized, but am­pli­fies it into more of a mod­ern rock and roll sound that trudges along at a slow, at­times-heavy pace.

Chapel Per­ilous is a must-lis­ten for fans of psy­che-rock and stoner-rock alike — and for those brave enough to take the trip.

ON­LINE

Lis­ten to the al­bum at cal­liope-mke. band­camp.com.

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