Chronos – ‘Pallid Reflection’ Album Review

Hailing from Bath, a beautiful city with an incongruous predilection for throwing up disturbingly heavy bands (the result, perhaps, of late-night skinny-dipping in the ruins of the Roman Baths), Chronos share little in the way of information about themselves beyond the simple and unarguable fact that they like metal and that they were formed in 2014. Therefore, we shall make up their biography. Chronos first landed in Bath on a mothership built from glass, lemon juice and the skin of a thousand cows. They look like humans but are, in fact, legion, linked by the soundwaves they launch from their guitars. They like cheese and occasionally club fish to death with long staves made of cheddar. Their album, ‘Pallid reflections’, was recorded at Rockfield studios in Wales (we’re back in the realms of reality now, by the by) and the band argue that it reflects a more progressive side to their song writing, something which becomes apparent from the moment you are launched headlong in to the opening track.  

 Opening with blistering single ‘Blood river’, Chronos immediately set out to impress with dizzying riffs that recall Gojira coupled with melodic vocal stylings that slip between a more British melodic style and a guttural roar that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lamb of God record. In short, Chronos have gathered together a wide variety of influences in order to inform their own sound and the result is an opening track that grabs you by the appropriate genital group and slams you hard into the band’s dark, metallic world. Next up, is the richly rewarding ‘Sea of guilt’, a heavy, yet melodic offering that pairs thrash riffs and a more emotionally-charged vocal style that showcases a different side to Chronos from that demonstrated on the more overtly complex ‘blood river’, although some disarmingly brilliant bass work leads the track into far more adventurous pastures than the opening salvo might suggest and, by the time the band unleash a series of harmonised solos, we’re into full-blown progressive heaven. The lengthy ‘Thuribles Veil Part 1’ takes the band’s sonic experimentation yet further, the band playing with progressive structures with an aplomb that belies the short time in which they have been active. Acoustic guitars, eastern-influences, dizzying solos and riffs constructed like the walls of a mighty fortress – the band throw all of this and more into a piece of music that is nothing short of mesmerising. If you want to see where the real heart and soul of metal beats, look no further than the underground because Chronos offer potent evidence of the skill and passion that exists outside of the mainstream. Just to prove that they’re not only interested in appealing to the intellect, ‘Lobotomised’ is a red-blooded metal monster that combines death metal and Iron Maiden influences to neck-snapping effect. The first half of the album concludes with ‘shiver’, a short, hypnotic piece that shows the band have a gift for weaving a dense atmosphere when the mood takes them.

The second half of the album kicks off with the thrilling metal blast that is ‘Awake’. A full-on thrash attack, ‘Awake’ detonates like a high explosive round and sweeps away the dark mysticism of ‘shiver’ in a blood frenzy. However, it’s not all blood and death and ‘Emerald soul’ allows a further glimpse at the remarkable musical prowess that lies at the heart of Chronos. Here the band’s professed love of Opeth is clearly represented and although it does fit into the wider context of the album to an extent, it does feel a touch too close to its inspiration to truly soar. This problem returns, and to a much greater extent, with the similarly themed ‘shadow of the sun’.  It’s back to the darkness first for the death-infused ‘crossover’, a mid-tempo beast with churning riffs and scabrous roars dragging the listener into the darkest depths of the band’s imagination, although a melodic break allows some light and shade into proceedings. However, ‘shadow of the sun’ veers even closer to Opeth  than ‘emerald soul’ and, although enjoyable, it feels far too much in thrall to that band when compared to the more original material found elsewhere. Happily, the album concludes with the lengthy epic ‘thuribles veil part 2’ which clocks in at an impressive twelve-minutes. It brings the album to a satisfyingly powerful close with the band once again representing a metallic assault that is very much their own and it certainly marks out Chronos as a band to watch in 2017.

At seventy-one minutes in length ‘Pallid reflection’ very much pushes the length of the album and there is an argument that the band might have been better to leave ‘shadow of the sun’ (and possibly even ‘Emerald soul’) off the final listing, perhaps saving them for bonus tracks, in order to offer up a more concise journey through their own more unique territory. This is, however a minor gripe and it should be noted that the band’s musicianship is, throughout, exemplary whilst the production offers a crystal-clear representation of the band’s ambitious work. First and foremost, ‘Pallid reflection’ is a powerful, progressive work. In terms of production values, depth of composition and skill, there’s no question that ‘Pallid reflection is an impressive debut LP. Where certain sections do feel in thrall to the influences that inspired them, for the most part  it is an intelligent offering from a band destined for greater things. 8  

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