“Chromium Dioxide” by Meat in Space is exemplary of why rock music thrives in the liminal space between simplicity and complexity. Their melodies are repetitive. Their lyrics are dark yet accessible. On the flip side, their chord choices are non-diatonic and pleasantly jarring. To a music theory aficionado, it reads as vibrantly intricate, but to a punk rock lover, it’s just another pristine example of the sound they always seek out: heavy, effortlessly cool melancholy.
A wash of guitar feedback throws us into the intro riff. Power chords swing from fret to fret with a driving steadiness. The verse comes in, vocals distorted and layered: “Searching for something / To affirm my position.” The melody repeats one phrase a few times, then peppers in a high-register flip occasionally. The movement of the line tends to follow the chords, which gets interesting when they rise and fall in a somewhat atonal way. It’s a perfect way to keep the listener engaged, having a gritty, modal cascade down or up the scale.
As the song continues on, the instrumentation gets a bit more intense. There isn’t necessarily more of it, the players just dig in more. The drums crash forward in the mix. You can practically hear the pick hitting the electric guitar strings. The singer pushes his chest voice harder, resulting in a totally different, more urgent timbre. If you’re a 90’s rock fan, you’re eating it up at this point. It has a delightfully retro atmosphere, but somehow still oozes modernity.
Written by Alyce Lindberg
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