European power metal seems to be a dying animal as of late. The bands that have sprung up lately have been everything from pretentious and vapid to just downright cheesy. Even some of the heavy hitters of the genre have either disappeared or just turned to outright shit. So when when I heard the debut album by Sweden’s Cromonic, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all is not lost when it comes to power metal. The band appears to have been formed by former IronWare and current Freternia vocalist Pasi Humppi, even taking some Freternia alumni with him, the band plays a melodic power metal that reminds me a bit old Sonata Arctica, with a dash of Nocturnal Rites along with their own style thrown in. Their debut, Time, is (in my not so humble opinion) a breath of fresh air in a metal sub genre that has seemed to have lost it’s way.
This album represents what I have always loved about power metal; lots of melody, huge choruses, great hooks, amazing guitar work, effective keyboards, and soaring vocals. Vocalist Pasi Humppi has some pipes on him and sings in a rather high register. The album opener, “Another World,” jumps right at you with a typical power metal opener. The track has lots of melody and is just a downright killer song. They do not rely on down-tuned, palm muted guitars over constant double bass drumming trying to be fast for fast’s sake. Instead they rely on the riffs as well as great keyboard work to create an epic sound without sounding forced or pretentious. Guitarist Patrick von Porat is one of the stars of this band. His guitar work on this album is mind blowing. The soloing on this song, as well as the rest of the album, is really good.
The title track is a song that makes use of the keys in a more predominant way without forcing the guitars to take a back seat. Instead they effectively create a mood with the melody of the keys. I’m not opposed to keyboards driving a song as long as the guitars are allowed to show through. There is some palm muting going on here but it’s mixed with catchy riffs and melodies. The solo, once again, just knocks this song out of the park. The flip side of this is “Metal Cry, ” which is a more riff centric song and uses the keys in the background for melody instead of driving the song. Once again, the soloing is incredible. Either way, what you get here is what made me love power metal to begin with.
“Revenant” is another example of this band’s ability to write catchy songs. It opens with some great riffing but there is so much more than what appears on the surface. In fact, there are layers to this song that take this to an almost epic level in four and a half minutes. Not many bands can pull this off. This is slowly becoming my favorite song on the album. “Paradise,” which was the first single to promote this album, is another cool song that opens with this cool galloping tempo and a really catchy chorus. The use of an organ sound from the keyboards gives this song some cool personality. This is the most ‘pop’ sounding song on the album but it makes up for it by being really catchy and including a killer solo. Not the heaviest metal song on the planet but incredibly enjoyable.
Hearing this album gives me hope that good power metal not only still exists, but can be executed in this manner. This is an album that has all the ingredients that make power metal such a great sub genre. Even the weaker spots on this album (which are very few) have an endearing quality to them. What does the future have in store for this band? Only “Time” will tell.