Well I haven’t been as initially non-plussed by a band as Finland’s Chevalier since the first time I heard Cirith Ungol. I mean after the intro of ‘Destiny Calls’, ‘The Immurement’ drops in like the band were up-ended out of a dumper truck. It’s an utter cacophony of screaming guitars, bass and collapsing drums and when the vocals kick in they appear to echo down a hallway. Like some monster formed from a collection of scrap metal it slowly takes shape until we are faced with some very speedy speed metal. It’s a good melodic ride, with the bass competing to be a lead guitar and the snare heavy drums clattering away. The vocals, full of yips and chaotic screams still sound like the lass was pushed into the hallway, mind, but they are fine and weirdly call to mind the legendary Acid, as well as a little Holy Moses.
Anyway, hoping for a little clearer insight I press on into ‘The Curse Of The Dead Star’. Two minutes of doomy lead in we finally get to the meat with a shrill scream and for Chevalier, a cantering song. Lead breaks fire seemingly at random, the vocals ping along the upper register and there’s more tempo changes than you get letting a wolverine loose in an orchestra pit. It eventually speeds along and, yeah, getting used to the weird mix now it’s good fun. So of course they fuck with me again by dropping some folk into it all. ‘Road Of Light’. Sombre voice over and a trilling guitar that breaks out into Iron Maiden doing a jig. The drums kind of begin to overpower the sound here, again making me wonder who was on what twiddling them knobs…It loses the song a bit which is a shame as there’s something good going on in here – different, shifting but catchy and with some excellent, fierce twin guitar breaks.
‘Stormbringer’ really drops all pretence that the bass isn’t a wannabe lead, which is great by me. This is folk metal wound up to 11. With power metal. And the oddest couple of moments of (I think) keyboards just popping in to say hi. It’s all a bit mad, but equally so fresh and pretty darned great. They chuck everything at the wall and most of it sticks, with a hook for a refrain, leads like shrapnel and vocals that have you clutching your precious glassware in fear.
It doesn’t really let up for ten tracks, even with a couple of moody, short instrumentals. Chevalier have a box full of tricks though and know how to use them; the only problem being that they sometimes sound as though they just upend the entire box at once. They can go from zero to sixty in about a second and know a good tune too. Yeah there’s a little too much of that galloping Iron Maiden style here and there, and i never quite get used to the mix here (though for the sake of the gods make sure the bass is always muscling in on the leads, it’s fantastic.
As a debut this is everything you want: Madness, enthusiasm, talent and a completely don’t-give-a-fuck-ness about how they go about things. Oh here and there it’s a mess but never less than a glorious mess. If you’re going to take that many corners that fast there’s bound to be the odd crash through the barriers. But Chevalier don’t crawl from the wreckage they sprint back, tripping over themselves to get back in there.
Different. Chaotic. Much more to come. A fine introduction indeed.