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CHEST ROCKWELL

Neo-Prog • United States


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Chest Rockwell biography
US outfit CHEST ROCKWELL, named after a character in the motion picture Boogie Nights, was formed by Josh Hines (guitars, vocals) in late 2003, initially as a solo project.

In the spring of 2004 Nick Rouse (drums) and Nick Stewart (bass, keyboards) became involved, and at that point the project ended and the band was born.

2005 saw them release their first album, Back to Square One, a creation blending elements typical of indie rock with influences from acts like Yes and Rush. Just after the release of this album Seth Wilson (guitars) was added to the band's line-up.

Chest Rockwell has been an active live unit ever since tthey became a band, but they do manage to find the time to visit recording studios now and then. With the expanded line-up firmly settled they hit the studio in the summer of 2006, and 2007 saw them issue the production Chest Rockwell vs. The World, a 42 minutes long epic divided into 8 parts, whilst adding both jazz metal and some folk elements to the the progressive-tinged indie rock explored on their debut.

After intensive years with songwriting and concerts the band took a small break after promoting their second album; but in the summer of 2008 they started preparing material for their third album; Total Victory; which was issued in the spring of 2009.

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Chest Rockwell Vs the WorldChest Rockwell Vs the World
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$6.06
$51.84 (used)
Laugh & The World Laughs With YouLaugh & The World Laughs With You
CD Baby 2011
Audio CD$4.45
$7.99 (used)
Total VictoryTotal Victory
CD Baby 2009
Audio CD$6.76
$80.14 (used)
Weep & You Weep AloneWeep & You Weep Alone
CD Baby 2013
Audio CD$5.00
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CHEST ROCKWELL discography


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CHEST ROCKWELL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Back to Square One
2005
3.52 | 4 ratings
Chest Rockwell vs. The World
2007
3.52 | 9 ratings
Total Victory
2009

CHEST ROCKWELL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CHEST ROCKWELL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CHEST ROCKWELL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CHEST ROCKWELL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
Laugh And The World Laughs With You
2011
4.50 | 2 ratings
...Weep and You Weep Alone
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
6ix
2014

CHEST ROCKWELL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Laugh And The World Laughs With You by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.50 | 4 ratings

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Laugh And The World Laughs With You
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US band CHEST ROCKWELL have been around since 2004, with three full albums to their name and two EPs. A band that never really have been a nice and regular fit into any category, blissfully ignoring regular conventions and expectations something of a trademark feature of their material. "Laugh & the World Laughs With You" is the first of the two EPs they have made, and was self-released in 2011.

If there is a constant element to the material explored on this production, it is the use of textured instrument details that gives rise to associations towards post rock. A recurring detail if you like, the element that gives the five songs explored here an identity mark despite being fairly different in scope.

Opening piece Black Reign combines quirky, massive riff constructions and a certain thrash metal approach with compact, light toned passages that invites to the use of expressions such as alternative and indie, lightly flavored with symphonic inspired intermissions. Juggernaut brings a certain hardcore or punk inspired dampened aggression to the table, while the following Hogwash is a much more gentle expression that utilize textured instrument elements post rock style and alternating symphonic inspired material to build and develop a composition that concludes on a majestic note similar to what many post rock bands tend to do. Ultimo Hombre brings back an aggressive expression, alternating with a gentle intermission that gives me association towards the neo progressive realms, concluding in a gritty, powerful manner that brings an artist like Ministry to mind. While final song Get It in Half combines quirky riff based passages, light toned and elegant textured instrument driven sequences and massive, majestic riffs driven parts into a dazzling, brilliant whole. Five highly different compositions that still manage to come across as distinct creations by a single band by way of a few strong and distinct details as marks of identity.

Chest Rockwell is a band I've been fascinated by, in a good way, ever since I first encountered their music back in 2008 or thereabouts. "Laugh & the World Laughs With You" is an EP that documents just why this is a band that is worth investigating in a good way, by exploring material covering a wide stylistic delivery but still managing to stick to their own particular sound. An EP and a band recommended to those who tends to treasure music made by bands that prefer to stay off the most well trodden paths, in particular those with a fairly wide taste in music.

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 Laugh And The World Laughs With You by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.50 | 4 ratings

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Laugh And The World Laughs With You
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Originally intended to be a full length release, this EP by American outfit Chest Rockwell was released in this form owing to their producer having to take time off for impending fatherhood! Well, I hope that all goes well with that, and I will say here that his knob twirling work is always quite superb on this release, thus allowing the band to avoid the trap of a poor sounding work that many other newer outfits can fall into.

When opener Black Reign came blasting out of my speakers, I had to revisit the band's profile on our site to check that they really were classified as neo-prog, because this is HEAVY. It is basically a heavy prog track, verging on the prog metal, and as far as traditional neo as you are likely to get. A pounding bass, drums, and riffs assault your senses, and this is full of youthful energy, with enough industry to make for an impact start. However, there are also enough melodic interludes amongst the riffs to make you sit up and realise that this is a lot more than a "by numbers" headbanging act. The solo guitar riff is very good, and the lengthy instrumental passage that closes the track is very impressive.

Juggernaut follows, and, vocals aside, I hear more than a bit of latter-day King Crimson here, before more "standard" riffs kick in. As with the opener, there are some nice guitar breaks amongst the riffing, but I find this a bit unsatisfying as a whole.

Hogwash changes the complexion of the EP completely, and is very pleasing as the "thrashing" of Juggernaut gives way completely, and is replaced by a very thoughtful, and understated, piece of music, featuring delicate keyboards, guitar and bass leading to some excellent solo guitar work (the solo guitar work by Seth Wilson is consistently excellent throughout the album). This track is somewhat mournful, without ever descending into depressing music, and is a true highlight and a clear taste of what the band are capable of. Nick Stewart, especially, creates a magnificent bass line to move the track along, and the riff at the denouement is excellent, reminding me very much of Rush in their finer moments.

Ultimo Hombre returns to extremely heavy territory. it is basically a modern heavy metal track without the prog balls attached. Good for what it is, but rather forgettable if I am honest.

Cut In Half closes the work, and is the best track on the EP. This piece, to me, very cleverly combines many traditional and modern influences in the band's music. Passages are at once Crimsonesque, and others Floydian, and the vocal performance of Josh Hines is the best by far on the work, simply because of its more laid back approach. A far more mature piece of music than the first listen suggests, this is, at the end of the day, very impressive, modern, heavier progressive rock, and the more frontal keyboard work does give one more than a hint of bands such as Arena in its pomposity, and I say this as a compliment.

There is more than enough in this EP for me to look forward to its successor in the months to come, and to award it a good three star rating. It is certainly a true shift onwards in comparison to some of the older pieces of music (which can be listened to on the band's Bandcamp site).

Do not be too fooled by the neo prog tag assigned on the site. This is, in reality, a modern heavy prog album, interspersed with passages that, with careful thought and nurturing, can move this band into the sort of commercially fruitful territory currently occupied by the likes of Haken and Riverside. I would also like to see more use of melodics and, certainly, keyboards.

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 Total Victory by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.52 | 9 ratings

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Total Victory
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars A partial victory

In 2009, Chest Rockwell returned with their latest album to date. Easily their most accomplished release, "Total victory" unfortunately remains deficient in the production and vocal areas. Admittedly, the vocals are an improvement on previous albums, but for my money they tend to spoil the overall sound. On the plus side, the songs are noticeably more melodic and the arrangements generally interesting. The guitar work is once again the high point of the album, complemented well by the keyboards when they are present. To these ears though, the sound is rather raw overall, an issue which greater use of keyboards might have gone a long way to addressing.

Things get off to a rather inauspicious start with some decidedly distasteful, perhaps even offensive lyrics for no obvious reason. The band go to some effort to embellish the songs, including some extensive use of archive audio recordings, especially on "Within 10 Paces I Cannot Fail", where they are the focus of the track.

The latter part of the album, starting with the instrumental "11 is the New 7" sees the band exploring generally heavier territories, sometimes with a metallic edge. These tracks tend to benefit from the shift in that direction, mainly because they feel more finished.

From a prog perspective, while one could argue that there are occasional nuances of such in the arrangements, this is almost exclusively an indie/alternative rock set. I must admit to total bemusement at the band's classification on this site as Neo-prog", but that is an issue to be dealt with by the site, as far as I can see the band lay no claims that their music is of that ilk.

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 Chest Rockwell vs. The World by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.52 | 4 ratings

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Chest Rockwell vs. The World
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars "On The Edge Of Intensity"

Almost immediately after the release of their 2005 début album, the Chest Rockwell line-up was augmented by the arrival of guitarist/vocalist Seth Wilson. Wilson brought an element of maturity to the band which was largely absent from "Back to square one", this their second album appearing two years later.

The greater sense of ambition contained in this album is evident immediately through the fact that the 8 tracks are linked by a common theme to form a concept album. The variety of track lengths also indicates that where appropriate the band are willing to develop the material to a much greater extent than before.

For my money, the vocals remain the weak point of the performance. They may be adequate for the average indie band, but for a band with clear ambitions to explore a variety of styles and sounds, they are poor to the point of being distracting. Elsewhere though, the instrumental side of the band develops reasonably well, the lead guitar being strong throughout.

One pleasing aspect of the album is the increased use of keyboards to flesh out the overall atmosphere. Had these been used significantly more yet though, many of the songs could have benefited. At times, the music veers towards prog metal territories with fine waves of lead guitar driven on by a pulsating rhythm. Even here though, the vocals are placed far too far up front in the mix, and are frankly inadequate.

Overall, a significant improvement of the band's demo like début. There are plenty of signs here of the potential inherent in Chest Rockwell. Whether that potential lays in prog areas though remains unclear, this is largely an album of indie rock.

As with the first album, it is hard to see why the band has been allocated a neo-prog categorisation on this site; as already said, this is by and large indie focused alternative rock. Admittedly some of the songs now have prog nuances in their structures, but the music here overall would fit better into one of the art rock sub-genres.

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 Back to Square One by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Back to Square One
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

— First review of this album —
2 stars Boogie nights?

Arising in 2004 from a solo project by vocalist/guitarist Josh Hines, Chest Rockwell took their name from a character in the film 'Boogie nights'. Thankfully however, there is little relation musically between the band and the film of that name, as this their first album (released in 2005) clearly demonstrates.

'Back to square one' is a rather shaky first offering, with both the production and the performances being kindly described as na've. There is plenty of promise though, the guitar work in particular being melodic and pleasing. It is the lead vocals and the harmonies which betray the lack of experience of the band; with a little more post-production they could have sounded a whole lot better, but here they are left in their raw state.

The tracks often have the feel of demos, being based around acoustic guitar and drums. Some of the songs, such as 'Psychic Maelstrom' show promise and could have been brought to fruition had they been sympathetically developed. Others though, while delivered with enthusiasm, betray a need for the songwriting skills to be developed too.

While much of the material is based in indie rock, there is a reasonable sense of adventure in some of the arrangements, 'Y'all Are Dude' being an example of a song which can be simultaneously frustrating and promising. On the other hand, 'Something vulnerable' is pure pop, with banal lyrics but an infectious rhythm.

There is little here with a prog dimension, and certainly nothing to tie the band into the neo- prog category they have been assigned on this site. As we continue to explore the band's later albums that may well change, but based on this album alone there is little to trouble the discerning prog fan. Others with wider tastes may however find the green-shoots they seek from a new band with potential.

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 Total Victory by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.52 | 9 ratings

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Total Victory
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Raff
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Like a lot of 'modern' progressive rock, Chest Rockwell are a band that is bound to divide listeners' opinions. Their music is of the kind that devotees of 'traditional' prog may very well hate, or simply consider 'not prog enough'. However, it also contains enough distinctive features to attract the attention of the more open-minded fans of the genre.

If I had to compare Chest Rockwell to one of the iconic bands of prog, I would definitely choose Rush. Though purists may scoff at the Canadian trio for having 'abandoned' the ways of true prog from the early Eighties onwards, they have undeniably never shied away from experimenting with vastly different genres, such as reggae or new wave - a simple fact that would make them forerunners of 'modern' prog's omnivorous nature.

At a first listen, the biggest source of inspiration on "Total Victory" would seem to be the diverse, hard-to-pinpoint 'alternative/indie' galaxy. Josh Hines' vocal style is indeed closer to alternative or grunge than to classic prog; in my view, it is also one of the album's weaker points. In fact, after listening to the two initial songs, I judged Chest Rockwell to be another good, yet somewhat overhyped outfit purported to be the 'next big thing' in the fundamentally conservative world of progressive rock. The strongly riff-based "Being An Able Man, There Are Always" can bring to mind grunge, or even the early work of U2, especially in the chugging guitar sound; while in "2 Pumps Away" the Rush comparisons start rearing their head, with the bass pushed at the forefront, shifting from a harsh and relentless sound when underpinning a gritty guitar solo, to a booming, meaty one during the song's catchy chorus.

However, with the third track things start getting really interesting for the true-blue prog fan. Shades of Pink Floyd circa "The Wall" or "The Final Cut", or even Roger Waters' solo output, lurk in the instrumental "Within 10 Paces I Cannot Fail", made up for the most part of snippets of recorded political speeches overlaid by odd electronic noises and melancholy acoustic guitar chords. The three parts of "Body Prop" bring the listener squarely into prog territory, and not just because of its structure. With plenty of odd time signatures, stellar drum and bass work, guitars in turn emotional and gritty, and occasional keyboard touches, it could be successfully compared to Rush's underrated Nineties output. The intense, guitar-driven ending to Part 1 also hints at a more controlled, less manic version of The Mars Volta; while Parts 2 and 3 take a more moody, atmospheric direction, especially Part 3 with its faint but pervasive sounds of water. Hines' vocal performance is quite powerful throughout, definitely his most convincing on the album.

"Total Victory" ends with a bang, as the last three tracks steer the sound towards metal territory. The spectacular instrumental "11 Is the New 7" is driven along by a pumping bass line and guitar licks straddling the line between melody and edginess; besides the obvious Rush comparisons, something here points to a tighter, less self-indulgent version of Dream Theater. The brisk, Iron Maiden-flavoured cavalcade of "Colossus", on the other hand, would have worked better as an instrumental on account of the somewhat lacklustre vocals. Album closer "Mortal Universe" (the longest item on the album) begins in muted fashion before developing into a heavy riff-fest with a military-sounding guitar line, pounding drums and the omnipresent, pneumatic bass cementing the song structure.

Judging by this album, Chest Rockwell undoubtedly have a bright future ahead of them. Their tight musicianship and songwriting skills should be enough to capture the attention of those prog fans who do not always expect new music to sound like a faithful rendition of Seventies-style standard fare. A solid 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for sheer interest value.

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 Total Victory by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.52 | 9 ratings

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Total Victory
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Chest Rockwell is a pleasant surprise. They make excellent use of multiple clean guitars, maintaining an effervescent sound that doesn't get bogged down, yet keep some delightful treats tucked away in their 2009 album. The band dredg is a good comparison, as Chest Rockwell often sounds similar although not quite as memorable or robust in terms of composition, and has a singer with a lower voice. The vocal melodies are sometimes served on these rising chord progressions, which can be a bit uncomfortable in context with the rest of the music. With a couple of exceptions, there's nothing outstanding here, but there sure is much to enjoy.

"Being an Able Man. There are Always." A nice pop opener, this song has delightful clean guitar and gentle electronic percussion. It is more like a crossover track with post-rock tendencies.

"2 Pumps Away" This has a jaunty yet grungy sound with occasional Rush-like guitar riffs and synthesizer moments, but more of a modern pop-rock sound.

"Within 10 Paces I Cannot Fail" Old radio speeches about war carry on over acoustic guitar. Josh Hines said he wanted to write a piece that might work with Oriental martial arts cinema. The title comes from a line in the movie Hero.

"Body Prop" Several light electric guitars buoy the track, as an unexpected verse ensues, which consists of building drums throughout each line. The tapestry of clean electric guitars is a refreshing sound.

"Body Prop 2" Guitars are strummed in a static way as the bass provides the chord changes. Some fluid noises weave their way through the fabric like musical worms.

"Body Prop 3" Spoken word over clean, picked electric guitar makes for somewhat dull listening. After a heavy moment, some dark but hushed music begins, and it's quite lovely.

"11 is the New 7" A rattling bass opens this quirkily-titled instrumental, as a distorted guitar lead joins in. It has many intriguing passages and never settles into one groove, keeping things fresh and interesting. By far the most progressive and creative musical moment on the album, this should find favor with many people.

"Colossus" The band cranks up the distortion a bit, which admittedly is rather tinny and not to my liking, but gives one an idea of how edgier Chest Rockwell sounds.

"Mortal Universe" A pleasing riff and easygoing beat serve as the foundation for gentle male vocals. The ensuing staccato vocal section is rather irritating, however, and once again, that tinny distorted guitar returns. The final moments are harsh and grating and don't serve the flow of the rest of the song well at all.

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 Total Victory by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.52 | 9 ratings

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Total Victory
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This third full length production by US outfit Chest Rockwell is most certainly a charming aquaintance.

While their second album was a bit all over the place all the time in terms of stylistic expressions, this most recent creation is a bit more coherent; and the number of distinctly different styles have been reduced as well - and at least in this case the end result is a stronger effort overall.

The musical foundation this time around seems to be some sort of indie / alternative / post rock sound, with mellow and undistorted wandering guitars a central element in most compositions; using the instrument to provide textures just as much as to provide distinct melodies. The songs are generally on the quirky side too; with frequent changes in intensity, pace and sound.

Towards the end of the album we're treated to some stellar metal-dominated tracks too, and the two final tracks Colossus and Mortal Universe are highlighst of this venture alongside oddly named opening number Being An Able Man. There Are Always.

Well worth investigating by the adventurous music fan.

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 Chest Rockwell vs. The World by CHEST ROCKWELL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.52 | 4 ratings

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Chest Rockwell vs. The World
Chest Rockwell Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US-based group Chest Rockwell has made a rather unique album with this sophomore effort.

With an obvious base in the indie/alternative sound, the band draws influences from seemingly every genre under the sun and incorporates them into their music; so that you'll get songs starting out as jazz, moving on to ambient themes before turning psychedelic and then dives deeply into the land of metal.

Most of the songs twist and turn from style to style; sometimes with an ebb and flow feel to it, at others times going on a musical exploration trip.

Interesting and intriguing music for anyone with a broad musical taste.

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Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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