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Chton (Greek. Meaning something like ‘from the earth’, ‘earth-like’) was a band previously unknown to me. This death metal band hails from Norway and make their first attempt at releasing a full length after making a two-track promo some two years ago. The band was founded by guitarist Øyvind and was originally called Nil Admirari.
And it seems that Chton wants to do things differently than your average nowadays death metal band. There’s not much endowment in the speedy drums-department and the band seems to concentrating at variety within the individual songs. The result? Tightly-played, sludgy midtempo tracks which, I’m afraid, aren’t exactly that varying.
One should think that variety seems to be the keyword here, but unfortunately this is not the case.
Because Chton has forgotten to write some incredibly strong riffs, which are the backbone of every good death metal record. Of course there are some great riffs mind you, but not to the extent to which one could speak of a really breathtaking release. For example, tracks like “Chtonian Lifecode“ (vaguely reminiscent of Immortals’ “Blizzard Beasts” CD) and “Book of Black Death” do have some strong riffs and ideas (which remind of the black metal roots of the band), but lack the ‘drive’ that make death metal such a powerful and brutal style of music. And it’s just that there too few up tempo parts to get hold of my attention span, never to let go.
The thing “Chtonian Lifecode” DOES have is an unpolished, raw sound which is quite uncharacteristic for a Scandinavian band. This smart move on behalf of Chton earns them five points extra. But it still doesn’t hide the fact that Chton has to learn to write some really strong songs. For now the band slows to a halt among the vast horde of average bands.
It’s arguable that some of the more recent Death Metal platters haven’t hit home like we may have wanted them too. Cannibal Corpse pretty much do what they do, and the album from the reformed Suffocation, whilst a pleasing and most enjoyable effort, lacked a little in the production. As I write this, I am yet to hear the new Behemoth disc – so, my opinion may change rather quickly. Yet, it is a feeling I’ve come to notice of late…where is the killer death metal? Not the technical DM wizardry of Necrophagist (which is supreme), but that real hard as fuck, cold calculating brutal death metal sound of old. Meet Norwegian quintet Chton.
Did I say Norway? You got it folks, Norway. With its reputation forged upon the plethora of Black Metal acts that we all know and worship, Norway is perhaps now starting to become recognized for other forms of music. Chton are a band that will have a big say in pushing the old school death metal sound. Having said that, its not as if they’re any sort of originators, hell the debut albums from Dark Throne and Cadaver were Death Metal. And lets not forget the current Zyklon, Bloodthorn and Aeturnus line-ups either – all Norwegian Death Metal acts.
Chton are an interesting band from the outset. Their name, their album title (which partly references a classic Dark Throne track) and their overall presentation hints of something more than straight up run of the mill death metal. From the opening strains of ‘Invitation to Hell’ to is apparent that ‘CL’ is going to be a brutal ride. Taking their musical cues from a broad range of influences like Suffocation, Morbid Angel and Immolation to Nile and Behemoth, Chton serves up a veritable cacophony of dark, brutal death metal with just a hint of Scandinavian blackness seeping through its underbelly. The most impressive aspect of this disc is its massively thick production. It is a harsh, heavy fucker indeed. It packs a mighty wallop in the bottom end percussion while the guitars convey a vicious crushing tone not unlike what you might expect from a Zyklon or Behemoth production. I’m not sure who Godt Selskap is, but his work (along with the band) on the production/mixing is most impressive.
Chton also do an excellent job in being able to construct a Death Metal album with diversity and variation. Their music is strangely old school in parts, yet at times there is a technical complexity embedded within. The variation in speed play between faster and mid-tempo rhythms combined with some twisted harmonies, ensure that none of their compositions ever become repetitive or tiresome. There is certainly much more going on here than any sort of formula driven DM act.
Retribute records would be stoked to have discovered Chton. I’m sure that the current one album deal with the band will be extended upon after they witness the many positive reviews that ‘CL’ will garner. This is a real surprising listen and one that has again strengthened my faith in this genre. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but be confident in knowing that it is miles ahead of the pack in terms of variation of ideas and musical application. Always look to Norway for the solution - Well worth investigating further.