Chains of Hell Orchestra – “One Bad Trip” EP (1984)

I couldn’t find much about this Seattle-area foursome online, other than it appears they were from Olympia and that percussionist Peter Blecha went on to be a well-known local historian specializing in Northwest music history.  In fact, I’ve read one of his books, Sonic Boom! The History of Northwest Rock (2009) and can confirm he’s legit.  And because it’s pre-grunge Seattle related rock (1984), I had to have it when I saw it over at Easy Street Record the other day.  Because I lack self-control.


One Bad Trip opens with “Big Hands” and delivers an unexpected combination of styles.  There are quieter parts that include just box percussion, a minimal keyboard, and Judy Schneps’ mildly haunting vocals… but then when the rest of the instruments kick in things almost feel kind of folk rock-ish, an odd stylistic disconnect.  “Over the Wall” is a more consistent deep pulser with rapid drumming and a bass that drives the action forward.  Schneps keeps her voice low giving the entire thing the vibe of an idling motorcycle engine waiting for someone to pop the clutch and go.  The flip side gives us the bizarre “One Bad Trip” (which you can check out via the YouTube link below) and a nearly seven minute version of “Born on the Bayou”.  But, you know, sung in French.  Because why wouldn’t it be?

For my money “Over the Wall” and “One Bad Trip” are the winners here, but it’s possible I’m just failing to connect with the more unusual tracks.