Comprised of Jess Labrador (guitars, lead vocals) and Shannon Madden (guitar, backing vocals), the San Francisco-based duo Chasms have developed a reputation for crafting haunting beautiful yet menacing and propulsive dirges that sound as though they were heavily indebted to 4AD Records. And as you’ll hear on “Black Ice,” the latest single off the duo’s much anticipated full-length debut, has the duo pairing Labrador’s ethereal vocals with propulsive and pummeling drum programming, shimmering guitar chords played through gentle amounts of delay and reverb pedal and brief bursts of dramatic feedback and a sinuous bass line in a chilly and hypnotic, slow-burning song that gently pushes the boundaries of what shoegaze should sound like, while nodding at doom metal and other genres.
As the band’s Jess Labrador explains in press notes “Lyrically, this song most represents the theme of the album. Love has the power to awaken you, to heal you. But it is not all you need. Humans are damaged, imperfect creatures. For as much beauty as love may birth, ugliness is unearthed. You must face yourself.” The song suggests the cliche that you can’t love someone else until you love someone else; but it also suggests that love can make one ambivalent and uncertain because heartache is generally inevitable.