Chronos Zero was brought to us as a project of Enrico Zavatta in 2011. A project that we were unsure of how far it could actually go. Zavatta found a talented group of artists to surround himself with in Federico Dapporto on bass, Davide Gennari on percussion, along with Jan Manenti, Margherita Leardini and Manual Guerrieri all on vocals! 2013 brought us ‘A Prelude into Emptiness’, with much fanfare featuring a terrific blend of excellent melodic metal from Italy. Now, in early 2016, we are treated to another release, titled: ‘Hollowlands’. Can Chronos Zero continue to build their empire of grand lyrical aspirations?
A quick look at the song list and a first listen to ‘Hollowlands’ puts your mind at ease, as the very familiar visuals and sounds have returned. The art of the album cover is an excellent progressive piece that Chronos Zero fans shouldn’t take issue with in proudly displaying alongside ‘A Prelude into Emptiness’. There are qualities found here that will make fans of the 2013 release very excited. While the line-up has changed slightly with the loss of Giuseppe Rinaldi on keyboards, it thankfully doesn’t take away from the current product.
Jumping right into the album, we are treated to some very jarring riffs that invite us into an impressive metal harmony. The vocals of ‘The Compression of Time’ come off as very complex, with a nice balance of screams and male and female vocals. ‘Fracture’ blasts unrelenting progressive riffs which quickly gravitates into high-end atmospherics, not too dissimilar to Symphony X. Matter of fact, much can be said about Chronos Zero’s thematic style being incredibly similar to bands like Symphony X, with a dash of Meshuggah or Kamelot creating an impressive blend of progressive melodics. There is plenty to love here, even with it being a sound that is a bit too familiar at times.
Extremely well done transitions between the bulk of the meatier parts of ‘Hollowlands’ - from ‘Shattered’ to ‘On the Tears Path’ and continuing to ‘Who Are You?’ and ‘Who am I?’. While these tracks have strong similarities, they also show wondrous examples of true progression in heavy metal music. ‘Ruins of the Memories of Fear’ and ‘Phalanx of Madness’ set a mood of slightly more eerie undertones that put you at the centre of a nearly cinematic chapter of a darker story. Almost straight out of a horror tale.
That’s where we then enter into the extremely well done trilogy of ‘Oblivion’. This three part audio venture brings forth exemplary progressive metal stages that bring together three intelligently interwoven tracks with excellent transitions and riffs that many have come to love from Chronos Zero. The foreboding mood music mixes so well with the explosive climaxes to each part! ‘Near the Nightmare’ slows things down a bit with more emotion, with elements of a slowly building edginess and throws you into ‘From Chaos to Chaos’, which closes out the album with a shorter collection of guitars that are sure to please.
I found this to be an incredibly enjoyable album from beginning to end and exactly what any progressive metal fan could want in a studio release. While I personally believe the album has a few elements that are slightly too similar to other bands, there is no doubt that these guys are talented artists and will continue to build their sound to become something of their own.
Review by Joshua Jaeger
22nd January 2016
1) The Compression of Time
2) Fracture; 3) Shattered
4) On the Tears Path
5) Who are you (A Shape of Nothingness)
6) Who am I?(Overcame by Blackwater Rain)
7) Ruins Of the Memories of Fear
8) Phalanx of Madness
9) Oblivion Pt. 1 - The Underworld
10) Oblivion Pt. 2 - The Trial of Maat
11) Oblivion Pt. 3 - The Harp
12) The Fall of the Balance
13) Near the Nightmare; 14) From Chaos to Chaos
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...exactly what any progressive metal fan could want in a studio release."