Every week HEADWARMER. will go in search of the forgotten classics; albums that sniffed at the success they deserved before disappearing beneath mounds of mainstream mediocrity. This week Steve Fletcher recalls a personal favourite and exumes an overlooked masterpiece from Derby
3. THE BEYOND – ‘Chasm’
(Music For Nations, 1993)
The early nineties was a magical time for rock music. Some truly inspirational albums were created that feel a million times more genuine today than anything else around. Albums full of honesty and daring bravado that completely outstrips the modern day formulas. The likes of Superunknown, Dirt, The Holy Bible, Gish, Bossanova, Ritual de lo Habitual were all albums of colossal quality and influence. Albums of loss, remorse and positivity that truly stand the test of time.
Relative unknowns The Beyond were not in the same league as the aforementioned in terms of commercial success, but this was through no fault of their own and quite honestly, could be one of the travesties of our time. They were a prickly bunch, a crew of four who pushed the boundaries of alternative rock into a whole new category and in doing so, created unique albums that you simply must own. Chasm is an album of angst fuelled alt-rock that is so difficult to pigeonhole in todays scene, but no matter, to pigeonhole would be serving an injustice. It’ss untouched and unrecognised as an original and inspirational album from the 90’s.
Their debut ‘Crawl’ overflowed with invention and a creative edge that had their peers reeling and was a fabulous example of the bands potential. Heavily driven by Neil Cooper’s frantic and exemplary drumming style; a restless jazzy clatter overwritten with John Whitby’s soaring staccato and blended with some razor sharp guitar work that resulted in a thrilling ride for the listener. Chasm headed for more traditional structures in terms of song writing and production but in no way lends any synergies to the music that surrounds us today.
It kicks off with Cypress Era, a wonderful rock opera that sets the pace and tone, flowing brilliantly through Sentimental Vultures, Onion and in particular Grey, to the closer Mother My Lover; a poignant shock and an appropriate finale to the opening bluster of Stagnant and Melt. As a reference point, I can think of no equal. Lyrically and musically this album is so clever, so full of itself and confident that you have to sit up and take notice. Defying definition, it’s not indie and it’s not metal in the broadest sense of those terms. It’s definitely alternative so perhaps ‘art rock’ is an appropriate tag for such a special brew. If you can track it down, listening to Chasm isn’t just an artistic duty, it’s an unparalleled pleasure, it’s musical intricacy strangely memorable. For those who don’t want to part of the crowd, but still need somewhere to belong, this might still be one of the best albums you’ve heard in years.