Cromonic - Time - (9.5/10)
Published on January 4, 2018
Genre:Power / Heavy Metal
The title of this album is on their side!
It could be argued that the original revival of European power metal that dated from about 1995 until around 2004, arguably kicked off by riveting opuses like Gamma Ray’s Land Of The Free and Blind Guardian’s Imaginations From The Other Side, was an exercise in mass nostalgia. This notion is perhaps partially misplaced given the strides in stylistic evolution that were spearheaded by the likes of Rhapsody (Of Fire), Lost Horizon, Pagan’s Mind and Heavenly, striking out into hybrid acts that leaned about as progressive and symphonic as they did power metal, but much of the mainline acts proved to be a bit closer in proximity to the speed and heavy metal roots typified in late 80s Helloween and the 90s output of Stratovarius. Among the more conservative of acts during the turn of the millennium stood Freternia, a band that hit a bit heavier and was about as informed by Blind Guardian and their Swedish doppelganger Persuader, but still nested comfortably in the straightforward conventions of the 80s original, not to mention a band that had a short go at studio output during the crest of the millennial revival and has since fallen into inactivity.
This is all relevant due to the fact that another band consisting of several musicians involved in Freternia would form a short-lived project in the mid-2000s called Cromonic with former Dionysus drummer Ronny Milianowicz. Though this fold would only put out a short demo before folding its tents, within the past couple years this outfit would be reactivated with a vengeance, rocking the pillars of Swedish power metal with a spellbinding array of punchy anthems in Time. This isn’t your Wintersun brand of perceiving things before and after the current instant, though it took even longer to come into being, but a hard-hitting, densely produced fist to the sky that blends the flash and flair of Stratovarius with the heavier, more Maiden-infused attitude of earlier Cryonic Temple, not to mention a vocal display to rival Tim Owens at his most intense. By no means is this an exercise in arena oriented simplicity, which has been all the rage from about 2005 up until a couple years ago, but a larger than life trip down memory lane that is sure to have any stalwart fan of the old ways reminiscing on the glory days of Warchants & Fairytales, with a fair bit of keyboard oriented goodness on the side that reminds a bit of vocalist Pasi Humppi’s other millennial project IronWare.
All of that turn-of-the-millennium goodness that has been somewhat absent even of late has been translated into something comparable to the recent production efforts of Jacob Hansen (Primal Fear, Pyramaze, Tyr), which makes sense given that the mixing and mastering was handled by Thomas Johansson, who runs in similar circles and has an equally impressible catalog including efforts by the likes of Scar Symmetry and Mors Principium Est. But the production, which defines both polish and power, is only the tip of a monumentally impressive iceberg of catchy songwriting and brilliantly realized technical guitar work that bridges the gap between Adrian Smith and Yngwie Malmsteen with zero bumps in the road. It contrasts a bit from the high flying good old days of Freternia primarily in that it opts for a more mid-paced demeanor that is a bit reminiscent of Tad Morose, particularly on more rhythmic and groovy offerings like “Mental Cry” and “Paradise”. There is still plenty of time made for more speedy efforts like “Another World” and “Revenant” that definitely draw from a similar well as the works of Conquest (UKR) and Sunrise, ergo the Episode era of Stratovarius, and the nostalgia button gets slammed down hard on the “The Hunt”, sporting that heavy yet atmospheric groove that bands like Hammerfall were lifting off Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell” going back to the 90s, and incorporating its epic character into a more modern context.
For an album that seemingly came out of nowhere, and from a fold of musicians that have been all but forgotten by the power metal faithful, this leaves about as deep of an impression as Krakatoa did back in 1883. It commands repeated listens from the sheer level of impact being so great that it will overload the register of just about anyone that has been cutting their recent diet of power metal with the safer and lighter side of the style typified in the likes of Kamelot and Epica, and it even maintains an awe-inspiring level of intensity during the most serene moments of the Freternia remake and closing ballad “Dragonsong”, not to mention a reminder of the fantastical place where these Swedes first hit pay dirt back in the early 2000s. Let us all hope that this explosion of brilliance will create future islands in a manner similar to the famed Indonesian volcano, for the present world of power metal would be well served by having a heavier yet still fantasy-oriented group of veterans increase their output to compliment the lofty symphonic wizardry that has been all the rage of late.