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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Tuesday, 28 September 2010 08:11|
Back in 2009, a new metal/hard rock band came to be in Calgary, Alberta. The quartet comprising Chron Goblin -- fronted by vocalist Josh Sandulak and featuring guitarist Devin Purdy, bassist Richard Hepp, and drummer Brett Whittingham -- have managed, in just over a year, to establish themselves in the Calgary rock scene, develop a strong local fan base, and cut their first release, a five-track EP which is currently available.
The self-titled album starts off strong. This relatively new foursome channels the best of '80s metal and hard rock, contemporize it a bit, and then add their own flair. There are moments in the opening track, "Mirrors," with bombastic guitar riffs that harken back to the days of Guns ‘N' Roses and even early Smashing Pumpkins. So already, they're off to a good start. There's the long guitar intro that has become synonymous with these genres, before the lead singer comes in just over the minute mark. At first Sandulak's voice sounds a bit rough, then I recall that that's the point of the hard rock genre, and perhaps I've been listening to a little too much auto-tuned pop/dance lately. His vocals, while gruff, are clear, and he avoids screaming into the microphone -- a mistake that many, even the most seasoned professionals, in this genre make.
"Walk With Me" has a great blues-sounding intro and, while the guitar is the most audible instrument in this song, it's really the bass that drives us through it. I love me some good bass, and this track arguably has the best groove of the five tracks from the EP. There are so many influences that this band seems to draw from musically, whether intentionally or not; it doesn't end with Guns ‘N' Roses or the Smashing Pumpkins. There are moments reminiscent of other big names such as Metallica, yet Chron Goblin manages to never make it feel as if the're imitating or outright copying their influences. Instead they seem inspired, but with a sound all their own, demonstrating not only great creativity in general, but great musicianship as well.
While "Walk With Me" is likely the best sounding track on the effort, my personal favourite is the third song, "Awkward Endeavour"; it is the most polished both vocally and instrumentally. It's a song that would make a great lead single, and when it comes to cutting their full-length album, it should be a strong contender with little-to-no tweaking. It's a straight-forward rock track, and one that would be radio-friendly while not alienating their already-established fan base. This will be the song that I use to introduce other people to the band.
"Change Your Hair" wastes no time in getting into loud, bombastic territory. Unfortunately, it's the weakest of the five tracks, as it switches between two instrumentals depending on whether you're listening to a verse or the chorus. While the song has some potential, it feels like the band was trying to put two really good half-ideas into one song in the hopes of creating a really great track. Instead it falls a bit flat.
Chron Goblin stumbles with the fourth track, but regains their composure for the final, "Flat-Footed Hypocrite." This tune features more instrumentals than vocals, but it has a great groove to it, leaving the listener satisfied overall with the EP.
For a band that has been in operation for just over a year, their first EP puts forth not only great lyrics and music, but the members have gelled in a way that would typically take other bands years to accomplish. They sound highly polished on this release, and one can only imagine how well this would translate onstage. Chron Goblin may be limited to Western Canada at the moment, but with enough good press, a good publicist, and a strong live set, they could easily gain a wider audience before long. This self-titled EP is an excellent start to that process.