Review Summary: In the midst of the deathcore uprising, Viatrophy put out something completely independent of trend or formula, regardless of genre and Chronicles is it.
So this is my first review here on Sputnik, I'll do my best and please be nice.
Now, down to the nitty gritty.
There is slight contention as to what genre Viatrophy fit into. Normally if I saw a band I liked being labelled as deathcore somewhere on the interwebz, I would dive into the fray and claim that they aren't deathcore, and try to defend their honour. But with this EP, I needn't do such a thing. You can call them post-jazz bebop/metal/hardcore for all I care because the music should really speak for itself. And Chronicles
does just that.
Taking influence from all over heavy metal's myriad sub-genres and underground phenomena, Chronicles
is truly a work of art. Death metal at its core, Chronicles
demonstrates the signature crushing heaviness that you would expect from the genre as well as other such traits: downtuning, growls, blast beats etc. Indeed this is done expertly well by Viatrophy. Some would claim it is watered down but I would suggest that it is modernised and more accessible. Oh and it has HUGE groove. Just listen to the intro of Chronicles (the song) if you don't believe me. But it is not this which makes Chronicles
such a great EP. It is the subtleties, the melodies and the technicalities which propel Chronicles
from good, to superb
Such delightful tidbits of metal joy can be found on every single track. And despite this consistency it does not decrease the impact of said intricacies. This is so because each song is truly different from the last and each little melody or lead are presented in different ways. For example, at the end of the title track, on top of the thick, galloping riff, is a sweeping lead that changes the whole dynamic of the song. It gives the song a purpose, a direction, a climax. It also adds to the atmosphere of the song. In that particular track, there are obvious bleak, dark undertones which the droning melody complement whereas in other tracks, different melodies are used to create different moods. For instance the sweeping (I think, forgive my ignorance) in Plague Of The Elected adds a rather more uplifting nature to the song, while the rhythm guitars still provide a great head banging riff to back it up, which is in 5/4 timing. Phwoar.
It is that sort of low-level technicality which adds another dimension to the music. Complex enough to impress, but simple enough to digest and more importantly, to enjoy
. Indeed, Gurneet Aluwhalia and the roaming lead guitarist (the place has never been permanent in the band) are extremely competent guitarists and the tunes they churn out on Chronicles
are no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination. I'm sure if they really wanted they could have been a band that revolve around their technical prowess, like Necrophagist
for example, but instead they decided to use their skill as a compliment to their music. Whether that be in the riffs or the top notch little solos dotted around the EP. The ketchup (or any preferred condiment) to their steak, if you will.
And the rhythm section is the chips (french fries). Pretty tasty on their own, but better with everything else. Craig Reynolds is a great drummer but on Chronicles
he was yet to fulfill his potential. This not to say his performance on the EP is bad. No no. It is very good, but he has improved since this release, and his work on the skins in his most recent recordings overshadows his drumming on Chronicles
which is the sort of percussion ubiquitous amongst death metal. Gavin Thane is a good bassist too but unfortunately that's all that can be said as his playing remains largely inaudible save a few moments here and there. Whether this is down to the relatively raw, yet still fairly good, production value is unclear but he does provide a backbone to the more heavy riffage when following the guitars, which is not as easy as one may think.
Vocally, the EP excels. Dan Pierce is not only a technically proficient vocalist, he also injects emotion into his lyrics and delivery. Specifically his high pitched screams have outstanding range and they sound very tormented and genuine. His lows aren't the most brutal, but that's not what they are there for. The lows add a more angered sound, not to mention the variation they provide, which makes Dan Pierce's vocal performance all the more enjoyable. Lyrically the EP focuses on personal struggle but strays away from cliche lines and topics. Although the title track is about an ex-girlfriend, it doesn't fall into the trap of being a giant eff you, it is more a retrospective glance at what could, should or would have happened. These, and other lyrics such as the monotony of life, which are heard in Draining What Remains provide lyrics that are emotionally charged and easily related to. And they make great scream-alongs as well which is always a plus.
In the midst of the deathcore uprising, Viatrophy put out something completely independent of trend or formula, regardless of genre and Chronicles