“Chronus is a bright, shining addition to the future of metal” (David Ellefson [Megadeth])
With a supporting statement like that, the stakes are certainly high for the Swedish four piece Chronus. The band, hailing from Helsingborg in the southern parts of Sweden, a town which Soilwork call home, are a hard rock outfit who do have some traditional metal leanings but seem to have more in common with the theatrical and dramatic side of occult rock (See Ghost) and the foot stompin’ rock and roll vibes of Mustasch, Volbeat and Audrey Horne compared to the ‘metal’ Mr. Ellefson is claiming… But I get where he is coming from – electrifying pace, solid melodic hooks and Thin Lizzy like twin guitar spots do share some similarities with traditional metal which in its infancy was an offshoot of hard rock itself.
“Idols”, the second full length of the band is your typical 10-track rock release. It is filled with catchy rhythmic work, plenty of groove and has a good sense of familiarity, all key components in making sure your music is memorable and enticing enough for people to want to keep checking it out. Fronted by ‘The Baron’, the band mirror a similar look to that of countrymen/ghouls Ghost; a visible leading figure and a uniform instrumental component. Whilst this does lend itself to the image and theatrical side, it is something plenty of bands have tried in the past (and only few have taken far enough to be considered more than just a gimmick). With a familiar visual component, and some musical approaches which are also familiar, can Chronus create something memorable?
Yes and No.
Yes: They have ten tracks loaded with catchy and infectious vocal hooks and lead guitar sequences. Catchy rhythms which will compel foot tapping, head nodding or even full on body moving, big sing along choruses and flashy lead guitar work, the 10 tracks (well 9 as one of them is a short filler) boast some solid musicianship. It’s vocally strong, though it does bear a big similarity to the vocal work you will find on Ghost’s Meliora album, and musically, it’s got surging riffs, stomping chugs and plenty of bite and attitude.
No: Whilst it is memorable in some aspects, the familiarity of the band is almost a literal thing. The first impression I got of the band when listening to the opening track “Mountains Of Madness”, all I could think of was Ghost. The lingering vocals with the subtle haunting tone and full bodied delivery sound like something Tobias Forge is capable of/has already done. The rumbling, twisty guitar lines and memorable twin guitar spots sound like some of the later Thin Lizzy works meet the more modern takes of Audrey Horne on their Blackout album. It certainly works on a musical level, but as something with its own distinct identity, it doesn’t stand out as much.
That is not to say that the rest of the record is pretty much a watered down variant of those three bands blended together, traces of uniqueness do shine through. “Heavy Is The Crown” may have the same vocal stylings, but it’s vibrant musical component is fairly different. More of a departure from the classic hard rock style and to a modern hard rock style, it doesn’t quite lean into the groove and stoner approaches, but it relies on the atmospheric impact. Lingering sustained notes in short bursts to act as transitions into a big sing along chorus, a tension building, hammering sequence into a wild and flair-laden shred solo spot, harmony trail outs to a final chorus, it all works great. “Shepherd” has that retro 70’s stomping rhythm which will get you moving along to it and whilst it doesn’t rely on the overdrive/fuzz combo for the sound, it has the spirit of the era coursing through it, again driven on by subtle twists and flicks to the composition to help steer it on.
“Ghosts” and closing track “Idols” are probably the closest you will get to a metal-friendly sound/feel from this band. Slick drum work, expressive vocals in the choruses and galloping guitars create the hard hitting edge, and the feel it creates certainly has an electrifying presence, but the real gem of the album is the glam-rock, KISS-like “Pharos”. It’s glammed up groove is fairly dramatic and it has that steady chug feel and good melodic vocal hook which drives it on. With some sweet twin harmonies and some serious fuzz tickling the chord work, it all comes together to create a track which could help the band build their own identifiable sound.
“Idols” is a good release. Musically, it does well in blending the hard rock sound with the dramatics and theatrical atmospheric elements the tracks conjure, and it certainly does shine out as a catchy record. It just isn’t something I would put in the future of Metal. With some subtle changes to the sound, they could easily become something more proto-metal and occult rock like or they could easily double down and create an album which teeters on the edge of metal, but as promising as the work the band have brought out is, I wouldn’t say they are one to pin such high standards to.