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Released as a single with two different parts, one a conventional Sabbath-influenced doom metal song, the other a retro-psychedelic alternate version, "Chrono.Naut" is standard Electric Wizard retro-doom / psychedelic material. The first part is EW at their most commercial: it hinges on a catchy Sabbath-influenced riff, thick and bassy in sound and texture, and a groovy rhythm. The drumming is basic and the singing doesn't sound all that enthusiastic either. In its last couple of minutes, the music adopts a slower, slinkier rhythm and goes a bit chuggier but that's all there is to it. Not the most promising of beginnings, I'm afraid.
The second part of "Chrono.Naut" is a more psychedelic and stoned-out piece with watery, flubby lead guitar raindrop tones and bleached, zonked-out vocals. The slightly distorted riffing and the bass melody are pleasant and easy on the ear. Altogether this is a nice relaxing piece of music, rather too fast for its sunny setting in its first half, before halting about the 12th minute as if undecided where to go next. Uh, the music stays undecided for the rest of the song: this must be the "spacey ambient" part of the song. This just goes on for too long and loses any momentum that was built up earlier.
Chop the last five minutes of this second psychedelic / ambient part of "Chrono.Naut" for a start and unify what's left of it with the first doom metal part, bang a new coda that combines both the doom metal and psychedelic elements onto the end, and we would have a much improved track. I appreciate though that on "Chrono.Naut", EW were experimenting with different ways of delivering a song as an exercise in understanding how choice of genre influences its mood and ambience but sometimes songs might need a little more time to stew over and refine before they're unleashed on the public.
I approached Chrono.naut with quite a bit of excitement, having already fallen in love with the majority of the band’s full-length albums. Despite coming after Come My Fanatics…, and bearing a guitar tone closer to that album, this feels mostly like an exile from their self titled debut. The mood is far lighter than it is on the majority of their later works, and – despite the lack of lyrics – the song seems to be more focused on exploration and surreal sights than horror.
The EP opens with the first part of the song, simply called Chrono.naut. This primarily consists of satisfyingly thick riffs and well done, bluesy leads. The guitar is big, thick and distorted, but manages to retain quite a bit of clarity. The bass generally follows along here, making itself felt but not doing much more. The drums groove along without really adding anything, though they don’t detract…until the last minute or so, at least, when everything seems to separate and turn into a bit of a mess. The vocals are always clean here, occupying a position out of the limelight, but still quite noticeable. They’re better than on the debut, but still not at the levels they’d reach on subsequent albums.
The second portion of the song, Chrono.naut Phase II (Chaos Revealed) is, despite what the ‘Chaos Revealed’ title might imply, the most psychedelic thing that the band’s ever done. The bass generally plays the riffs, the drums keeping the rhythm beneath, while the guitar explores various doped out leads and effects, the vocals trailing along and frequently falling beneath everything else in terms of volume. This is easily the greatest section on the EP, with everything coming together quite well and providing a great, tripped out atmosphere. The only problem is the length. It simply goes on for far too long. There are a few variations here and there, but the mood always stays consistent, and by the first break you’re more than ready for it to either end or to segue back into something more forceful.
This is a strong song, one that’s unfortunately hampered by its extremely bloated length. It’s an interesting listen, primarily for the later track, and worthwhile for any Wizard fan, but it’s hardly essential. Thankfully, the band would develop their song writing skills more in the future, and also learn a bit as to the tasteful use of ambience.
There’s a reason that stoner metal is called stoner metal: the bands just seem to worship the weed. Ever since Black Sabbath set the precedent with their iconic “Sweet Leaf,” many of their devoted followers have set about erecting massive musical monuments to their beloved herb, such as Sleep’s “Jerusalem,’ the entire recorded works of Cephalic Carnage, and this, Electric Wizard’s “Chrononaut.” However it is worth noting that while almost every succeeding tribute is grander than Sabbath’s humble offering, none have even remotely approached it in terms of quality per length.
“Chrononaut” is no exception. What we get here is seventeen minutes of unabashedly low-fi stoner anachronisms with the bass-heavy crunch and tone-deaf vocals we’ve come to expect from the Electric Wizard. The first bit is completely typical Sleep-style doom metal, but at about the seven-minute mark the band starts up a mellow, wah-inflected groove that they ride until track’s end. This part is pretty cool, except that there is ten minutes of it, where four or five would have done quite nicely. The previous reviewer summed it up: it’s a good track, but didn’t deserve to be dragged to the extent that “Chrononaut” evidently was.
Apparently there’s something about weed-smoking that makes you crave really long songs, almost as much as whatever incidental munchables you can procure. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that you should be able to enjoy music while sober. If you wish to enhance the experience with a little ‘something,’ that’s your business, but the music itself should be intoxicating. It shouldn’t be so dull that the ONLY way you can enjoy it is with the help of psychedelic drugs. This is something that too many doom and stoner metal bands are guilty of these days. And with Chrononaut being the bore that it is, Electric Wizard can be added to the list.
As I hear this song ending, I realize that I've yet to be extremely impressed. I enjoy the final section fairly well, but only because it's that vibrant, ambient sound that Wizard is well-known for interjecting here and there in records.
This is one song that didn't deserve to be 17 minutes. The beginning is a rough, slightly uptempo (for them, anyway) section, with fairly decent riffage and vocals. As the song moves on, it becomes hard to keep up with. There are plenty of great parts, but it seems there are two good parts, and one really awful part... sadly this happens a couple of times before reaching the aforementioned ambient exit.
The first part that isn't so great happens around 4:30 in. It begins to fall apart, and turn into one of those doom songs that seems to thrive on being 'slow and messy,' but it comes off as forced and irrational. Then later there is a part that involves chords played into a phaser, funk-style... but with the standard Wizard drums... the worst thing this band has ever done.
All aformentioned bullshit aside, there are a few notably heavy riffs, and some nice musical breaks. The vocals have improved since the first album, although still not at the great level they will reach on 'Come My Fanatics...' I like the song, but I rarely listen to it because the sandwiched shitty parts are huge, where as the bookending greatness is too far apart to access.
A must-have for a huge fan, but I'd steer clear unless you find it on sale for very cheap.