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EP Review: Helter Kelter Skelter “Chroma Crawl”

Heavy rock has become a really strange term in the past couple of decades, but that isn’t stopping Helen Kelter Skelter from reinventing the limits of the genre through music as profoundly interesting as it is easy to listen to. Chroma Crawl, the latest release from this act, has a futuristic feel to its tracklist eclipsed only by the magnetizing energy created through the stylistic (and quite retro) influences it fuses so effortlessly, and to me, I think it raises the bar for what other stoner rockers will have to put out to remain relevant to young audiences in 2023.

Tempo can do a lot in any song, but it’s even more important than the linguistics in “Feel That” and “Best Friends.” Using the rhythm to shape the greater depth of the lyrics in “Best Friends” is what makes the track ready to take on the college radio scene, while in other songs like “Chill” or “Sceptre,” it gives the boundless texture a couple of lines to stick within, simply for the sake of giving us the juiciest elements of this band’s melodic command.

I imagine “Ship of Fools,” as well as the previously noted “Chill,” being a bit hard to play outside of the studio, but this certainly doesn’t mean I would mind these guys giving it a go in the right venue and an audience prepared to handle the carnage that could ensue. This music wasn’t designed to be played in front of a small crowd with a limited volume supply to the PA, and the supreme beats in “Ship of Fools” and sway of “Feel That” make me want to hit their next performance no matter where I need to see it happen.



Bold arrangements in “Sceptre,” “Best Friends” and “Feel That” demonstrate a fearlessness on the part of these players when it comes to utilizing discord as a necessary bridge between lyrics and music, and if this were something this group’s peers were to copy when producing their own content in the underground, I think all of modern psychedelic rock would be a lot better off for it. It isn’t common to find a band with the kind of enthusiasm this one has for the game connecting with any real subset of underground fans in 2023, but when we do, it makes a record like Chroma Crawl even more exciting to review and cherish for the treasure it is.

I got turned on to Helen Kelter Skelter with the release of their debut seemingly just a few years ago, but given the consistency this EP shows for the creative mind giving us this act, I don’t think I’m going to be staying away from the music they’re making in this capacity for anything. I think HKS is onto something good that is uniquely their own, even with the conceptualism we’re seeing in stoner rock on both sides of the country, and while there are others with similar ideas in music today, none are putting them into motion quite as well as this band is.


Keri LaMunyon



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