Written by: AP on 18/10/2020 20:29:37

While the heyday of melodic death metal has long since passed, its flame continues to burn even today, inspiring artists both old and young to ensure its legacy is upheld. One of these stalwarts is Chronicle, a band operating out of the northern Danish city of Frederikshavn, who first rose to some prominence by virtue of their participation in the 2018 edition of Wacken Metal Battle. The quartet was unsuccessful in that contest, but instead of sulking about it, the four musicians set to work on their sophomore album, hellbent on staging their breakthrough foregone at last — and after two years of toil, it arrived this past Spring in the form of “Demonology”, which lives up to its archaic title with a presentation of Gothenburg heirlooms from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Indeed, if you are looking for something fresh or innovative, stop reading now — for Chronicle’s sights are primarily locked on the past.

Staccato riffs, headbanging grooves, and melodies with a distinctly Scandinavian air of melancholy are delivered en masse across the ten tracks that comprise the album, all wrapped into a sound reminiscent of what Fredrik Nordström achieved for At the Gates’ classic 1995 album “Slaughter of the Soul”; the guitars murmur with a sonorous tone, the rhythm section clangs like industrial machinery, and the growls pierce the music like shards of black ice, drawing an inevitable comparison to The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad. And as such, for better or worse, “Demonology” is a formulaic album, seldom abandoning the listener in uncharted territory yet also keeping to an extremely consistent standard. I have personally spent so much time in the melodic death metal genre that by now I want the envelope to be pushed, but if you are content with nimble fretwork and melodies that stick from the first encounter, look no further. Chronicle have in frontman Lars Bo Nepper and lead guitarist Sebastian Skousgaard a pair of competent axemen, and it is their antics that provide the brunt of the lasting value here, with “They Have Returned” and “Nocturnality” both delivering standout examples of their riff- and solo-craft early on.

But while “Demonology” certainly lifts the two guitarists to a pedestal, it fortunately never gets to become some Joe Satriani kind of affair where everything else must bow in the face of their virtuosity. The quartet functions as a tightly knit unit and everyone is given their own moments for showing off; in “Taxidermic Divinity”, for instance, it is bassist Jacob Wammen whose thunder roars the loudest, while the penultimate “Human Instrumentality” gives drummer Jari Sielemann Holopainen the reins in order to accomplish the myriad style and tempo changes in the consummate highlight of the album. While “Living Hellscape” also adds an ounce of variety to the proceedings with the epic proportions of its chorus, it is easily eclipsed by the shifting dynamics of the aforementioned song, which careens from intense melodic thrash in the vein of Dimension Zero to segments verging on atmospheric black metal, with additional texture coming from well-timed guest vocals by Niklas Lykke of Livløs. The impact of this track is made ever the greater by the preceding instrumental piece “Perpetuation of Addiction”, which offers next to nothing by way of dynamics despite stretching past six minutes of running length and the only purpose of which seems to be to underline the band's skill of musicianship.

In general, consistency is both the strength and the bane of “Demonology”; the songs are well written, but too few of them take the extra steps necessary to really make an imprint on my memory or inspire me to hum their melodies out loud in unexpected moments. I suppose what I most miss in Chronicle’s music still is for their personality to protrude from the shadow of their influences, and for the band to take some more chances in their songwriting. Be that as it may, “Demonology” nonetheless drops a solid bundle of classic melodeath tracks onto a domestic scene in which the genre is not very well represented, and if you are a fan of that late ‘90s to early ‘00s Gothenburg sound, this record is perfectly fit for the purpose.


Download: They Have Returned, Nocturnality, Living Hellscape, Human Instrumentality
For the fans of: At the Gates, The Black Dahlia Murder, Hypocrisy, (old) In Flames
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.03.2020
Mighty Music

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