As a teenager in ill-fitting jeans and a bootleg Pantera t-shirt, I remember landing nose-first on a stranger’s elbow as hometown heroes- Chronic Xorn, belted away a cover of Lamb of God’s “Black Label”. To NOT sound like the denim-clad, drunk uncle who talks about the glory-days of yester-year, I have to first admit how far the Metal community has come to raise the bar and set benchmarks, how we have re-defined what passes as ‘noteworthy’ and what qualifies as a ‘botch’. To further illustrate my point, let me cast light on how a 5-piece that wore 2000’s Metal Top 10’s influences on its sleeve went on to mature into a band that has shared stage with none other but heavy-weights like SikTh, Benighted, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, and held its own.
The EP “For These Sins Who Must Die” saw a mid-December release in 2017, becoming the third offering since the band’s debut EP and full length. Making no excuses for mature songwriting, the EP catches the one off-guard with a moody-blues acoustic intro, landing the listener smack in the middle of a riff-tornado. The EP wins favors with the fact that the production does not have to try hard at all to make all the instruments and layers legible. The title track lays the foundation for the socio-political subject matter of the EP, which had been penned mostly by the band’s late friend, Abhishek Bhattacharya.
For those who have followed Chronic Xorn’s previous work, the absence of vocal melodies in the choruses is obvious, but definitely not a point to nit-pick on. In “Necropolis III” the band looks to continue on the ‘Necropolis saga’ which has been prevalent on their previous two releases as well. Old followers of the act would relish this fact as much as they would relish the unbridled rage with which new drummer, Dipayan, attacks the percussions! The chemistry with new Bassist Soumyadeep seems to be evident on all the tracks, as well.
With tracks that boast of gradual maturity in composition, since their inception, all signs point to Chronic Xorn heading in the right direction so far. Feeding on the red dripping from the ledgers of society’s white collar criminals, seems to fuel the pace of the album lyrically; it certainly serves them well on tracks like “Justice By the Act of Violence” and “Vox Populi” where the band gravitates towards the no-frills Groove Metal territory, bringing to mind overlords like Machine Head and Chimaira. Powerful choruses and incessant, groove-driven bridge sections to pontificate their convictions, makes the second half of the album 5x heavier than its first half, though! The most pleasant quality about the EP seems to be the lack of what most critics would label as ‘filler layers’.
Composing Metal in the veins of NWOAHM with massive dollops of melodic guitar hooks and vocals is a template not many bands have been able to grow out of, given fears of commercial failure. However, jumping ship has paid dividends in Chronic Xorn’s favor, as they have relinquished accessible songwriting in favor of unrelenting heaviness! Veering more and more towards chaotic pastures, but punctuating the same in familiar guitar-driven melodies seems to be a mantra that Chronic Xorn has followed largely on the new EP. While pundits might dispute about what the record achieves in a “ground-breaking” sense, “For These Sins Who Must Die” simply makes no apologies for the bands musical trajectory and gradient.
‘Metal’ is a genre largely defined by exponential growth, more so since the days of MySpace. While collaboration and criticism has helped in proliferation of the genre, it has also made it difficult and time-consuming to sieve the gems from the offal. Be that as it may, it’s a rewarding process, especially when you come across a band that has been concocting and sermonizing recipes of death and destruction, right in your back alley! Expanding their body-of-work beyond the debut EP and full-length, with the 6-track EP and how, Chronic Xorn does not beg for your attention, they simply swing for the jugular!