Chemtrail - Collider (Cover Artwork)


Collider (2019)

Good Fight Music

Living over here in the UK, every now and then I stumble across a band I’ve not listened to or even heard of before. I give them a listen, decide I really like them and assume, somewhat arrogantly, that they’re probably a new band given I’ve never heard of them before. Such is the case with Chemtrail. But Chemtrail aren’t a new band. Not even slightly. They’re an instrumental, post-rock band from New Jersey and they’ve been releasing music since at least 2006. Not having been aware of their existence until recently, it’s difficult for me to say how this record sits in amongst their discography, so I won’t. I’ll just tell you about this record as a single entity.

As previously mentioned, we’re in instrumental territory here. I know a lot of people can find that difficult to get on with and once upon a time, I was absolutely one of those people. Strangely, it was Russian Circles who first turned my head in the instrumental post-rock/metal world and I would say there is very little in common between the 2 bands apart from their mutual grasp for patience and allowing songs (or compositions, more accurately) to organically grow, swell and break like the slow-motion crashing of a wave. However, in the case of Chemtrail’s Collider the result is, for the most part, a blissed-out, spacious affair, without the oppressive sense of claustrophobia that Russian Circles and their metallic contemporaries often conjure.

Another band who occasionally spring to mind when listening to this record are Mogwai, maybe predictably. Another largely instrumental ‘post’ band, and one that on occasion, trades in the same hypnotic, mellifluous fare as Chemtrail do on Collider. Layered, picked melodies from high up the fretboard, lots of reverb and a gentle, pulsing approach to bass playing that serves as a soft, undulating mattress for the dream state that is being invoked just above it. Add in a liberal dose of slides, tremolo picking and that ability for the rhythm section to step up at just the right time and the results can be breathtaking.

Chemtrail have signed to Good Fight only a couple of months ago and although that’s typically been a home for heavier bands (Homewrecker, Madball, Cancer Bats, etc) given their previous success with other more ‘cult’ bands, I’m hoping that they succeed in bringing Chemtrail to a lot more people, because on the basis of this record, there is no reason they shouldn’t be talked about with the same reverence as the more lauded of their post-rock brethren.

Collider offers a truly immersive and uplifting listening experience and one that I’d recommend to anybody. From the misleadingly ominous opener “Void Crawler”, to album highlights “Young Warrior”, “Thrasher” and “Tiger Cage”, there is a deftness of touch and craft evident at every turn and it never feels repetitive or overly-indulgent. I’m a man who often appreciates the benefits of brevity in music, but at almost 46 minutes long, I press play again almost every time I reach the end of this album. It’s effervescent, beautiful and utterly addictive. Now to go and dive into their back catalogue.