Chronicles – Breathing New Life

Release date: 22 September 2018. Self-release.

The metal scene in France is really starting to pick up. You have of course GOJIRA, HACRIDE, SCARVE and now more recently you got EXOCRINE and IGORRR, but now you can add CHRONICLES to the growing list. This progressive metal group have just released their new record Breathing New Life and they’re not messing around. Mastered by Acle Kahney of TESSERACT fame, Breathing New Life is a fantastic sounding album. At first I was concerned they might just be another TESSERACT-by-numbers band but I was wrong. Yes there is a strong influence there, but CHRONICLES have enough of their own sound going on to easily differentiate between the two.

First track The Lost Wanderer begins with delicate piano and eerie atmospherics. The guitar work sounds promising from the off and I promise you it is the guitars which steal your attention all the way through Breathing New Life. The vocals aren’t outstanding, but they sometimes make a refreshing change from ultra polished vocals like every other neo-prog band.

The title track is full of djent-style riffs and twinkly guitar notes, but it is the drumming and effects which capture my attention here. At times CHRONICLES remind me of the later-era TEXTURES, but I kinda wish the band would go full-on heavy, sometimes they sound like they’re on the edge of just going mad but never quite reach the madness. Having said this Ghost of the Past starts with a GOJIRA-esque riff but it calms right down for the verse. The djent kicks in after a couple of minutes and things get tense, but it is the solo towards the end which makes for an awesome climax.

Desperate & Down has an elegant beginning and a rich sound but it lapses into much of the same. What’s happening in the background is the most interesting; the whirring riffs, the drum fills and atmospheric guitars take this song to a new level. It seamlessly transitions into Run which has hints of dissonance amongst the djent, creating a darker dynamic.

Dead Man’s Insight has lots happening. Djent, tech, melodic…all the progressive styles are here and it’s the song which flows the best on the album, but it is the final track Sanctuary which contains all of the components used throughout the album. To me the songs get significantly better as Breathing New Life goes along. Sanctuary is a fitting conclusion for the album as it’s an ambitious track full of interesting elements and progressions. The music ability is there to launch the band to new heights, CHRONICLES just need to focus and nurture their sound in order to push boundaries and carve their own niche in the scene.