What with the subtle consumer advice regarding one Ethereal Shroud album and Angry Metal Guy’s upcoming (and doubtless gushing) review of the new Trials disc, you may have noticed a theme on our brave little blog: blatant conflict of interest. Never one to miss out on a shameful trend, I’ve decided hop aboard the choo-choo of duplicity and perform an honest, above-the-board review for the completely unaffiliated French brutes in Kronos. These intelligent, good-looking, and talented musicians have taken a Tool-worthy break from the death scene since 2007, presumably in order to write an album so spectacular that it makes a modern classic like The Devil’s Cut look like some retro crap that only Steel Druhm could enjoy [You just made “The List.” – Steel Druhm]. In order to make this nightmare within a nightmare a reality, the band has signed with Unique Leader, the industry titan of perfect and perfect-sounding death metal releases, and announced that July 24th will herald the arrival of their opus Arisen New Era, which can be pre-ordered in concert with other well-made and reasonably priced merchandise from your local Unique Leader outlet.
Arisen New Era blasts forth from your skull like a nascent goddess of wisdom with “Infernal Abyss Sovereignty” and doesn’t dip in quality after the song’s first minute. Plenty of chugging, chromatic brutality and lightning-fast tapping is here to be had, but unlike many of their peers, the band uses technicality as a garnish rather than a crutch. Songs progress based on the strength and occasionally, catchiness, of their riffs and structure and never does the band resort to wankery to fill up space. This keeps the album at a brief and very palatable 36 minutes and encourages near continuous replay when you’re in the right mood to hear knockouts like “Raptures in Misery” and “Brotherlords” again in all their violent Hellenic glory.
Finding themselves situated as they are in one of metal’s most monotonous and derivative subgenres, Kronos do their damnedest to keep Arisen New Era fresh from moment to moment and largely succeed; a couple sour riffs sneak in from time to time, but they’re swiftly outcompeted by more tasteful cuts. There’s not a whole lot in the way of rest or experimentation here, save for the lovable flamenco-influenced outro of “Aeons Titan Crown,” which is bound to sound just great on your limited edition blue/white haze vinyl copy, inducing chills that only an Arisen New Era hoodie can do away with.
The production and mastering of the album are spectacular as one would come to expect from such an established name in the brutal death industry, sounding massive, crisp and enveloping with a spectacular (relatively) DR of 5 across the board – though you’d guess it was a 6 or 7 with how easy it is to hit replay once “Hellysium” throws its final punch. In a rare reversal of AMG recommendations, I’m actually left wanting another song or two to keep the album going. The riffs are blazing fast but semi-melodic and very engaging, everybody’s playing at full steam and sounds great, even the well-mixed bass, which is always present and appropriately boosted when it steps up with more technical licks.
I’ll admit that Arisen New Era is by-the numbers, but Kronos picked a great set of numbers to go by. The album easily beats out Dawn of Azazael‘s latest effort in both memorability and its relative absence of fascist themes, and I’m actually a bit sad that I have to stop listening to it when I get the new Cattle Decapitation promo. If uninventive but well written death metal like this and A Tunnel to Eden keeps crossing my desk, maybe 2015 won’t be such a bad year after all. Take that, El Cuervo.