"Compression" (Chard / Tolerance; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

A serious combination of Seattle grunge and alternative metal, Compression have a sound unlike any I've heard before. I failed miserably in my own attempts to describe Compression's music so I'll let Compression do it for me: The band's website describes the music as "intense, emotional, experimental, noise, and highly misunderstood." I couldn't agree more, especially the "misunderstood" part!

Baltimore, by and large, is a town very forgiving of idiosyncrasies and the unique nature of people and bands, but Compression seem to be pushing the boundaries even further than I thought possible. The result is a very likeable, yet challenging, set of songs about life's misadventures from this underground outfit. The term "underground" is very fitting for Compression as there is very little that is common or predictable about the band or their music.

The songs strike the brain before hitting the heart. Sure, music is supposed to move the body, but there is nothing wrong with music that appeals to the intellect. Slowly, but surely, the music appeals to both the mind and the body. While challenging the very fiber of your thoughts, Compression slowly draws the listener in to a vortex of a serious nature.

Lyrically the band can be a bit depressing, painting the world in a sort of Dante's "Inferno" dismal unreality. Elements of birth ritual and life after death (perseverance) are common themes that run throughout the songs on the disc which counteract the sense of hopelessness that pervades the lyric topics.

Musically, I hear a bit of the tone that can be found on Helmet's "Born Annoying" and "Strap It On," but there are plenty of sonic goodies as the band pitches back and forth with seesaw timbre from one extreme to the other. Oddly enough, I also hear a bit of R.E.M.-ish jangling guitars, which stand out like sharp shards against the relentless chords of the backing musical structures. Each song has a life of its own with a unique nature that sets it apart from each other. Of particular note are the songs "Antidote & Vertebrae" with its funky interplay of bass and guitar, "Deadly Nite Shade" which features a very cool descending guitar riff, as well as "Festival Of Scabs" which has a bit of doom and gloom music stylings.

The four talented individuals that make up the performers on Compression's debut are Greg on vocals, Paul on guitars and toys, L.P on bass, and Lou on drums. Currently, everyone remains except L.P. who has been replaced on bass by Albi. The band continues to tour and has shared the stage with bands such as Meatjack, Dare To Defy, and Stuck Mojo.

Along with the band, "Compression" was produced by Drew Mazurek (the Baltimore-based production icon). Mazurek ably handled the recording and mixing. Overall, the sound on the disc is quite impressive for a non-major label release.

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"Compression" (Chard / Tolerance; 1998)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Compression on Chard Recordings shows their metal teeth with this first-rate rock recording. Loud vocals mixed with thundering music makes this record a listening good time. The musical variety of this music is hard to imagine - some of the sounds coming out of the CD player are just hard to identify. Compression has all the aspect of a super rock band: attitude, aggression and volume. However, I found some of this music a little overblown and a bit depressing. I also found some of the music of Compression bordering on the brilliant. 

Compression is: Lou, drum kit; Greg, voices; Paul, guitars and toys; Albi, bass.

Look for Compression on the web at

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Dec 2018 12:03:10 -0500.