A swampy and impassioned rock sound captivates throughout Chroma Crawl, the new EP from Oklahoma-based band Helen Kelter Skelter. Following full-lengths in 2015 and 2018, and accumulating a standout reputation for exciting live shows, the pandemic put further plans on temporary hold. Instead of languishing, Helen Kelter Skelter took to the studio and got to work. The excellent Chroma Crawl EP shows the fruits of their isolated labor, delivering a ferocious rock sound.
Opener “Best Friends” exudes a commanding, ceaseless energy — setting in motion a whirlwind of ardency that lingers throughout the EP. Whirring guitars and debonair vocals drive into escalating guitar distortion past the first minute. Unbridled energy is rampant in the instrumentation’s tones, compelling amidst a steady rhythmic pulse. Even as the mix settles momentarily into a murkier contemplation, the conclusion reverberates with a blast of angst. “Best Friends” firmly establishes the act’s charisma.
“Feel That” rivals the opener’s brisk pace, while the three other tracks tout a more enveloping touch of fuzzily unfolding psychedelia. Propulsive riffs and clanging percussion traverse into a snarling vocal lead, breaking through a minute thereafter into an exotic-sounding guitar sequence at mid-point, echoing a sort of bluesy psychedelia. Eli Wimmer’s vocals maintain an intriguing tonal consistency within the upfront expressiveness, enabling the guitar work to stretch out with its fuzzy pulsations.
The more textural, patiently revealing “Sceptre” reveals a more lethargic pace in comparison — though certainly not lacking in passion or intensity. The swelling guitar buzzing struts an ominous overtaking, particularly as the lyrics provide a menacing invitation amidst sludgy textures past the three-minute turn. If you love sweltering vocal performances alongside hazy blasts of distortion, “Sceptre” is bound to elicit a spine-tingling response; it’s another decisive indication of the band’s power for guitar-based builds.
Concluding the EP, “Chill” embodies the release’s strengths thus far, particularly in presenting a guitar-fronted satiation that balances exotic-sounding mystique with a familiarly warm, buzzing psychedelic distortion. “Maybe you should just… chill,” the vocals let out with suave precision, as steamy guitar work tactfully fades into a late-night invigoration.
The stellar Chroma Crawl EP is merely the beginning of 2023 for Helen Kelter Skelter, who are prepping their third full-length LP to release this October, via Horton Records. Helen Kelter Skelter have firmly returned, resuming their sky-high ascent with this strong EP.