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The thrash scene in Greece has gotten bigger and better over the past few years with bands like Suicidal Angels and War Device. Leading the charge though are Chronosphere, whose fantastic brand of aggressive thrash has garnered a fair amount of attention in recent few years. Their first album, Envirusment, was a favorite among many thrashers and Embracing Oblivion was a very strong follow-up. After three years, they have come back with Red n’ Roll, a title which may indicate a change in style for the band.
What happened to Chronosphere? Red n’ Roll almost feels like an entirely different band that is trying to do something new but foolhardy. This album tries to be thrash and occasionally, it succeeds like on “Picking Up My Pieces” and “Be the Best” but most of this album sounds like something resembling thrash n’ roll. If you are wondering why that term sounds foreign, it is because thrash n’ roll does not exist. There is a very good reason it does not and should not exist. Thrash is about speed and playing with raw, chaotic energy. Rock n’ Roll is about grooving and jamming with the energy of good, clean fun. The two genres are in direct opposition to each other and though Chronosphere’s effort to change this is admirable in that they tried something new, it ultimately sounds flat and unoriginal.
Much of the raw energy that made Chronosphere’s past work so awesome is gone. There are solid thrash riffs here and there but they always devolve into groovier, more rock oriented riffs. There are a number of decent bass lines on this album but that is one of the few highlights of an otherwise confusing album. Specifically, the vocals on here are significantly cleaner than in the past to go with the new approach but they are less interesting this way. Where is the raw, chaotic energy that yields ferocious vocals? Nowhere. Nothing about this is ferocious or chaotic. It is actually somewhat messy except for the guitar solos (which are still awesome). Take a track like “Warriors” for example. It just plods along for three plus minutes with decent grooves and by the time the guitar solo hits, you are almost in agony.
The drumming provides a steady, driving rhythm for these songs but even that is uninspired. It drives the beat but that is it. There is nothing special or unique about it, although the closing track “Portal to the Underworld” does showcase a bit of nice variety. It is really a shame because Chronosphere had a good thing going and they ruined it by experimenting too far outside the proverbial box. Red n’ Roll is kind of a fun album, or at least it tries to be, but it is not a thrash album and it is not a particularly good album. We can only hope that they are able to right the ship for the next album after this failed experiment.
- originally written for The Metal Observer