[7th January 2013]
It’s not often that I say this, but today I am proud to be from Malvern. Set in the West Midlands (the middle bit of the UK, if you’re not familiar with our geography), it’s not a very interesting place; it’s essentially a retirement town replete with privileged middle class snobs and famous being the place that brought you the highs of Edward Elgar and the lows of Cher Lloyd.
Surely one of the finest-dressed metal bands around, Chronographs‘ founding members count themselves as graduates of the town, and since their humble foundations as teenagers, before even the self-released Outhouse Sessions, the group have come a long way, polishing a highly technical brand of genre-bridging metal. They’ve the math-influenced technicality of the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Arusha Accord and mixed it with the popular clean, compressed tones of the Axe FX generation to create a crisp, comprehensible sound.
Nausea is their first release as a signed band, having penned with the Ghostfest-affiliated Ghost Music at the tail end of last year. The EP starts apace with lead single “Opticks“, displaying the band’s chops via mind bending lead-driven riffs aplenty within the first thirty seconds alone. It’s the perfect song to illustrate their sound; later breaking into delay-happy post-rock – which agains rears its head beautifully on the record’s title track – and showcases vocalist Jon Sinfield’s dual properties as a singer and a roarer – which is probably the most accurate description of his harsh vocals; low and indelibly throaty as they are. Kudos must also go out to Liam Kavanagh of Burials for his seamless cameo in “Veritas“; a far-away, dichotomous scream under the heart of the song’s calm mid-section.
This is very much air-guitarists’ music; once your ears have become accustomed to the off-kilter riffing and time signatures you’ll find it hard not to ‘play along’ appreciatively. It’s memorable and catchy to a tee, and despite a few less shiny sections, explores its musical ideas well. Drummer and newest member Finn Mclean is an absolute metronome behind the kit, marking a strong acquisition for the band – especially given the challenging nature of the compositions.
The EP finishes on a somewhat apocalyptic note, with lyrics such as the hopeful “My hands reach out to cradle the falling rain // It knows no bounds, we will see the sun again” and “As I sit back and breathe it in; // “Stop! Give me water! I’m important!” Like we’d ever forget // You’re just one of the whole, and when one shows a crack, this city is sinking.”; exploring the desperation and blind hope of a society’s collapse from the perspective of its people. The five songs are built on a strong conceptual and critical foundation, tackling subjects such as faith, survival and personal strength.
Nausea is a fine professional debut from a young band who have an excellent future ahead of them. A solid and ambitious musical base is accentuated by mature, thoughtful lyrics delivered strongly by a young man who has honed his craft over recent years, and I’m stoked to see the first year post-apocalypse start off so strongly.