Chroming Rose - Louis XIV
EMI / Electrola
Power Metal
10 songs (47:03)
Release year: 1990
EMI
Reviewed by Mike
Archive review

Every so often, I get in the mood to listen to some older power metal. Of course, we all know that the modern power metal scene is filled with dozens of “cookie cutter” bands which clutter the scene. Of course, there are still many noteworthy bands in this genre today, it just seems that you have to dig through a lot of generic sounding bands to find the good stuff. When that sort of task gets tedious, I recommend playing some old school power metal, from a time when the sound was relatively fresh, and almost always played with sincerity, personality, and passion. Louis XIV is the debut album of the German band Chroming Rose. By a wide margin, I consider this album to be the best of the band’s career. With each subsequent album, the band lost power. For example, 1992’s Pressure was more a melodic metal album, yet still very solid. New World was a catchy rock album, but really lacking of speed that the band used on this album. The last album from Chroming Rose that I know of, Insight was a very mellow album that I hardly ever listen to any more. Perhaps this string trend of mellowing their sound detracted from the legacy of their debut album. Whatever the reason, Chroming Rose’s Louis XIV seems to be a much overlooked album. That’s a shame, because it is a great album that deserves in spot in any power metal collection.

The opening track of the album, Power and Glory is nice indication of what is to follow. As the title indicates, this is a very uplifting, yet powerful track. Crunchy, fast riffs form the basis of the song, and thick harmony vocals put an exclamation point on the melodies. Now, this is the way to open an album: fast paced, crunchy riffs, soaring vocals, and an addictive melody. Luckily, the band doesn’t relent, delivering a 47 minute wall of sound. Vocalist Gerd U. Salewski can be compared to other German power metal vocalist of the era. Michael “M.A.J.O.R.” Knoblich (Scanner’s Hypertrace album) is the closest comparison, with a hint of Jurgen Volk (Glenmore) also coming to mind. Salewski frequently soars into the high registers, as was common during this era. He pulls off the feat quite well, managing to keep a high level of power while belting out the highest octaves. You and I is one of many songs that showcases his not only his impressive high range, but his competence in the middle ranges as well.

From time to time, the band ventures into more of a speed metal mindset. Appropriately enough, Gods of Noise is a prime example of this. The double kick drums come at you like a speeding freight train. Guitar solos and thundering riffs knock down whatever is left. This is a recurring theme throughout the album. While not at full throttle ala Gods of Noise the entire duration, this is an intense album from start to finish. Pharao and the aforementioned Gods of Noise are good examples of speed metal leaning. To contrast, Angel is a melodic metal number that relies less on the double kicks, yet features a catchy melody, impressive solo, yet is still performed with intensity. Driving riffs and thundering, yet varied drum work make for a very formidable backbone of the band’s sound. Also, the trademark thick harmony vocals (especially during the chorus lines) only help drive the songs into your long term memory. While the songs and particularly the chorus lines are very uplifting in nature, the band never dives into cheesy, happy territory.

This whole album just explodes with a passion and intensity that you don’t hear too often these days. When I listen to this album, it’s quite obvious to me that the chemistry between the band members just “clicked” in the studio, and the product of that just flowed naturally. No contract obligations, “forced” performances just to make a paycheck, or label pressure to sounds a certain way are influences on this album. Chroming Rose simply had fun creating the music that they love. The drumming is played with an intensity and variety that never lets the listener down or to get bored. Combined with the crunchy, tight, and thunderous riffs, there’s no way your heart won’t be racing when playing this album. Numerous extended (but not indulgent) solos scatter throughout the album. Catchy chorus lines and extensive use of harmony vocals complete the successful union of power, speed, and catchiness. Having said that, all the raw ingredients needed to create a killer power metal album are present on Louis XIV. The intangible quality of “magical chemistry” is a defining quality for this album. Unfortunately, the band would never capture this magic again. However, for this album, Chroming Rose managed to deliver one of the more inspired and well played power metal albums of the era.

As you can probably guess, Louis XIV is one of my favorite old school power metal albums. It’s too bad that the band never released an album of this magnitude again in their career. That’s not to say that Pressure, New World, or any of their other albums weren’t good; that’s just not true. They were all different, that’s for sure. Also, as I said before, they never managed to recapture the chemistry that fueled Louis XIV. Your individual tastes will dictate which subsequent Chroming Rose albums you like. One thing is for sure, any fan of old school power metal such as Helloween (Keepers I & II era), Heavens Gate, and Scanner should track down Chroming Rose’s debut album if you don’t have it already.

Killing Songs :
Power and Glory, 10,000 Miles, Gods of Noise, Louis XIV
Mike quoted 90 / 100
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