Nathan Wade & The Dark Pioneers are Seattle's purveyors of apocalyptic Americana, hitching the rusted scraps of American roots music to a battered pick-up truck and dragging it across a broken 21st Century landscape. It's a cinematic trip down a desolate highway as the dashboard rattles apart and the truck radio blasts songs of murder, drug abuse, and Biblical arcana.
When it came time to roll the odometer back to zero, Nathan Wade lit a fire to his solo career with new band mates and bad influences Brian Alter (drums) and Sam Collins (acoustic bass & keys). After a little prompting from his musical brethren, Wade plugged in an electric guitar for the first time in years and his songs immediately strayed from the acoustic folk sound of his past and took a turn for the heavy. Christening themselves the Dark Pioneers, the new trio came roaring out of the blaze they'd just started and set out on a treacherous new stretch of road.
'The Chroma Session EP' captures some of the band's grittier, blues-lightning in a bottle with help from guest Pioneers Lincoln Barr (Red Jacket Mine) on electric guitar and Michael Spaly (Creeping Time, The Harborrats) on violin. Produced, recorded, and mixed at Seattle's Chroma Sound Studio by Bradley Zeffren (North Twin, Jeff Fielder, Kristen Ward), the band radically reinvents the acoustic recordings of Wade's debut, 'The Dead Leaves Sing,' while firing off a double-barreled shot of new music. "Sweat Through," once a bluesy solo foot-stomper, grinds down to a Zeppelin-esque crawl while "Skoal Bandits" finds it's twanging, Spaghetti Western stride. New songs like the amped-up, Sun Records thump of "Cold, Cold Hands" and the apocalyptic country-noir of "All You Shadows" wind and twist alongside the darkly-surreal revision of "Long Black Lilies" and the explosive drone-blues finale of "Dead Leaves."
Serving as a taste of what's to come, 'The Chroma Session EP' stands as a bullet-riddled mile marker on the road to musical armageddon, a future the band is driving into at high speed; in the rear-view mirror, a blood-red sun settles in the dust they've left behind.
Recommended if you like: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Chris Whitley, 'Night Of The Hunter' (the movie), gasoline fumes, Cormac McCarthy novels, 'Led Zeppelin III,' dark alleys, the Book of Revelations.