Wednesday 29 April 2020

Chronus - Idols (2020)

Country: Sweden
Style: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 24 Apr 2020
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Holy crap, Chronus know how to build intensity into a hard rock song! I say hard rock, even though they're usually billed as heavy metal, because that's how they play to me. Really they're on the boundary of the two genres and I could see them finding fans from either side. This is their second album and I haven't heard the first, a self-titled release from 2017. They formed back in 2012 and also put out an EP in 2014, so they've been at this a while.

I liked this album from the beginning, the hooks and vocals in Mountains of Madness reminding me of Diamond Head, even if it's only three minutes long and the riffing during the verses isn't as legendary (though the core riff certainly is). That feeling never went away over nine further tracks, some of which get more imaginative with their riffs even if the hooks seem more important to the band and solos are less commonplace. Clearly the band have their Sean Harris in Sebastian Axelsson.

Shepherd three songs in is the point where I wondered if they already have their Brian Tatler too and My Heart is Longing for You one more in is quite the answer to that question. By this point, I was totally hooked. It builds magnificently, aided by a keyboard layer. Ghosts promptly does the same and I realised that I was listening to something special. The most overt Tatler riff comes on Pharos and everything's suddenly there. The lead guitarist's name is Svante Furevi.

The main difference between Chronus and Diamond Head is that there isn't a song here over four and a half minutes. Even if we treat Sun as an intro to Pharos, that still only means five and a half and that's like the bones of a Diamond Head song, ready to expand and develop, building slower but just as surely over a couple of minutes more to even more intensity.

So Chronus aren't Diamond Head. They want to do many of the same things but they also want to keep their songs lean and radio friendly. Every one of the ten songs here, except for Sun, could be a viable single without stretching station policy on song length. I wonder if their songwriting process started with longer material and they went through each song to decide what to trim. We don't need that solo. That bass intro could be shorter. We can do without that extra verse. Cut them all down to their essence.

While I'd have liked this songs to breathe more, I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. Everything is a hook, whether it's a chorus or a verse. Melody is paramount here, however heavy the band get, and it's not something that they feel they have to reserve for certain parts of a song. The guitars are melodic too, even when they're crunching a riff. This is heavy for a melodic rock album but lighter than expected for one calling itself heavy metal.

And where that leaves us is an album that wins out over last year's Diamond Head because of its consistency, but fails to boast highlights of the level of The Coffin Train, Belly of the Beast or The Sleeper, because it has zero interest in being that ambitious. The closest here is Pharos, which boasts a killer riff and a solid build, along with a worthy intro in Sun. The others don't want the same depth.

I'll be picking up the previous Chronus album because I want to hear how the band has evolved thus far, but I'm really interested in seeing where they're going over the next few years. This is a highlight for me in a month full of great albums.

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