Alpthraum - _Chronophage_
(Independent, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (3 out of 10)
Alpthraum started off in 2009 in Canada's eastern city of Montreal as a black metal band with lots of ambiance. After a couple of demos, a couple of years and line-up changes that left Mr. Gustave G alone at the helm, the band changed into a symphonic metal band; a choice that I can't really comprehend. _Chronophage_ comes as Alpthraum's second release and I seem to have a few problems with it. Over the course of its fifty-five minute duration, I just couldn't find a certain section or transition that piqued my interest and had me reminding myself to come back to it.

The riffing is good but none of it stands out. Unfortunately the sub-par production brought the average down a few notches. This kind of music, in my view, needs a clear and massive production to deliver its full effect. It needs to sound big, especially when the composition relies on keyboards so much. Tracks like "Event Reborn" and "Frames Delayed" are a couple of examples where the keyboards take center stage with a very loud delivery despite presenting content that would at best fit as riff support. This degree of imbalance in the mixing makes for a weaker output and weakness is definitely a persistent pest on _Chronophage_.

The drumming fares a bit better than the keyboards though. The work done on "Within the Walls" and slightly more dynamic "Circles" adds some variety and a bit of welcomed technicality that attempt to minimized the overall weakness of these tracks but alas, its effects are short lived. "Spirals" is a slightly more intriguing piece with its enthusiastic galloping and clever transitions but unfortunately, again, the last minute just ruined the whole thing. "Hordes of the Endless Old" includes some good riffing and a very good intro but the vocals sound so far back in the mix to the extent that they actually hurt the music because of how awkwardly they're mixed in.

I tried to look for the positive points in _Chronophage_ but I had a very hard time finding them. Yes, there are some good riffs here and a few bars of good drumming, but when scattered over the course of fifty-five minutes and produced so poorly, they're meaningless. The whole record sounds weak and lacks any kind of punch that can make a lasting impression on me. Whenever I think of symphonic metal, I think of Septicflesh on the majestic _The Great Mass_ and Fleshgod Apocalypse on 2011's _Agony_ with their excruciatingly heavy sound, intelligible production and massive momentum. I don't think of _Chronophage_ and I probably never will.


(article published 31/3/2013)

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