Review Summary: Don’t expect anything revolutionary, but rather some simple, enjoyable metalcore with hints of thrash.
Unlike in countries like the United States, South Africa’s rock and metal music industry has only just started to take off in recent years, especially with the international success of Seether. While this may have shown the rest of the world (and even the country’s own cynics) that the country has something to offer, it also meant that its lesser-known bands lived under Seether’s shadow; as a result, some of them have resorted to imitating more popular international acts in an attempt to get some form of recognition. One band, however, has stood out in the country’s music industry.
Chromium hails from the small city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where they formed five years ago before migrating to Johannesburg, where their debut album was birthed. Intro Spectre is a mainly metalcore album with some thrash influences.
Eye-rolling at the word “metalcore” would be understandable as the genre is littered with uninspired, generic acts. Generic or not, though, Chromium is doing something right because not only are they endorsed by Rockstar Energy Drink (who also endorses bands such as Killswitch Engage and Trivium), but they were also featured on the SignMeTo Roadrunner Records project on the label’s website.
Here’s what I think that “something” is: Chromium keeps it simple. Sure, they may use some common metalcore staples such as the screamed-verse-sung-chorus formula in “Forgive Me” and “Forbidden”, and the harmonised solo in songs like “New Born Eyes“… but their album is not overloaded with, for example, insipid breakdowns to make up for the lack of actual musicianship. Which Chromium has, by the way; attending any of the band’s live performances will remove any thought that tells you otherwise. All I’m saying is that they do not resort to overdoing things to prove their abilities, which can be good thing sometimes.
I should mention that this (the playing down, that is) applies to not only the instruments, but the vocals as well. Since a lot of the songs are in the same key, the vocalist tends to remain in the same range, which can make some of the songs sound rather similar at times since he’s just using the same notes. While one could considered this a disadvantage, I find it to be a perk that makes the songs even more unique. Not every band has to have soaring, thunderous melodies; Killswitch Engage delivers enough of those. The lyrics are not too obnoxious, but too bland either. They are just fine.
In closing, don’t look for anything revolutionary. This does not mean you should just brush it off, though; In Spectre may be simple, but it is still an enjoyable album.