“For years, whenever we were together on the road or in the studio, we often had late night conversations about making music that was dark and apocalyptic but also contrastingly fragile and ambient, encompassing the different moods of music that we both love…”
I am probably the wrong person to review Tronos, the latest beast offered up by Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Absolute Power, Brujeria) and Russ Russell (metal producer extraordinaire, fellow bandmate in Absolute Power). Defining themselves as Apocalyptic Ambient Psych Doom Metal, surely they can’t do anything wrong, right? Right. But needless to say there are more than a few surprises. I do like surprises (not the kind of surprises that involve disappointment) and I like music that can keep me on my toes. Celestial Mechanics has me on tippy toes in thoroughly inappropriate foot gear for a psychedelic, sludge, space rock stomp.
“The concept was born way before we even hit the first note,” recalls Russ. “We talked of the end of the human race, the quest to explore outer and inner space, the extension of life and consciousness through space travel, energy transference through meditation and ultimately through death… how would the human race live on? In some far-reaching space craft or just by leaving our bodies behind? After many conversations we decided we should really give it a try, so we got together for a weekend and two songs were born. It came really easily and was exactly what we had in our heads so we decided to go for the whole album.”
Apparently the band was conceived in 2013 as a studio project and hailing from R’lyeh (the last known location of Cthulu) Tronos is more than a collaboration between these heavyweights, they are joined by Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Soilwork, Megadeth) on drums and also features Voivod frontman Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger, and a further three legendary bass players – Billy Gould (Faith No More), Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and death/thrash icon Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, S.O.D, Anthrax, Venomous Concept). The line-up is completed by extraordinary vocalist and violinist Erica Nockalls (The Wonder Stuff, The Proclaimers and solo art-rocker that has worked with Peter Murphy [Bauhaus], Wayne Hussey [The Mission] and Carcass)!
“This is a look at the universe from a few different angles,” states Russ. “While I think some of our influences are there quite transparently, I can’t think of an album that’s put them together quite like this before. It’s a trip. It really is, in every sense. There are sequences mapped out to the rhythms of the brain and body, oscillations that enhance the journey of the music by stimulating multiple facets of the mind. It’s dark and brutal and ventures deep into nightmares but it’s also hugely uplifting at times. I’m convinced it’s the sound I will hear when I depart this Earth.”
YES! I’m already sold, noticing that there’s a cheeky Sabbath cover too, oh my days.
Mystical whisperings and a filthy bass driven riff opens Walk Among The Dead Things, in a doomy sludgy heavy groove which increases in drive. Lyrically fascinating and delightfully dark with psychedelic elements and a dose of Sabbath and Hawkwind, it’s also deliciously almost 8 minutes long without overstaying its welcome! Hello Tronos! Judas Cradle comes is a mid-paced acid rock apocalypse that hits a galloping stride, gripping and disconcerting with ethereal vocals accenting the brutal despair.
“Although on the surface the story is set in fantasy, lyrically it draws a strong parallel to the struggles of mankind living on this dying planet. It may appear very dark and depressing…but stick with it, there’s light and hope for us all!”
The accompanying video is a work of art, and you can check it out here. Get ready for space vibrations!
“The video for ‘Judas Cradle‘ is a tormented and twisted journey through the many levels of hell of a man trapped in his own mind. We had strong visions of the kind of feeling we wanted to convey and the type of mind blowing visual extravaganza we felt such a song required. And film makers Khaled Lowe, Sam Edwards as well as Caleb Carney have done an incredible job of capturing our tortured imaginations.”
The Ancient Deceit might be the shortest track on the album, but it’s impact is certainly not small. It takes the intensity of Master of the Universe and combines spaciness with pummeling drums and face melting riffs for a glorious rage. The pace drops for the melancoholic, melodically disconcerting The Past Will Wither And Die. A Treaty With Reality bristles with menace while ploughing through the omniverse, taking no prisoners.
Voyeurs Of Nature’s Tragedies is simply exquisite, dripping with ethereal strings and horror, concealing your tears. First album release Birth Womb is a more brutal and extreme track, a real euphoric kick.
“This song talks about sacrifice, betrayal of emotion and the process of feeling temporary defeat. But in experiencing these feelings you realise that you can be a stronger person for the experience, the knowledge that maybe you are not unique and we are all dealing with our personal trials on a day-to-day basis.”
Premonition features Billy Gould from Faith No More on bass with guest vocals from Denis Belanger of Voivod to capture the emotion of a journey onwards and towards a higher plane of existence in this pensive piece.
“The words are reflections on the life I have led – how any of our lives, I suppose, start small and how at times it feels dark and scary, but at times there’s the happiness of achievement. Life feels continuously insecure sometimes, but I know that when I feel my strongest when I gaze at the life I have in part helped to create in my children. I have no regrets and as life speeds faster onwards, I am prepared to leave one day knowing I have achieved more than was ever expected of me.
Beyond The Stream Of Consciousness elevates the mind stratospherically with its space whispers and deep psychedelic groove and unnecessary but greatly appreciated blast-beats. A wonderful close to the adventure, which leaves the listener with a greater sense of harmony and appreciation for our planet (and the musicians and artists that inhabit it). But there’s more, Johnny Blade (Black Sabbath) from the under rated Never Say Die album! Less gang warfare, more superhero. Usually a Black Sabbath cover makes me run to listen to the genuine article, Tronos have broken the mould!
“It’s birth, life, death, rebirth,” Russ concludes. “The universal cycle, the extension of mankind, the end of days, trapped in unending nightmares, tears of joy, fear, hatred and sorrow. Essentially, although we as a race on this planet are truly fucked, there is hope in Utopia… an unheard whisper in space… ‘Everything is gonna be OK…“
Well if nothing else, I feel considerably better after this album on repeat for over two days, give it a spin yourself!
Tronos‘s Celestial Mechanics is out now and is available to buy here
TRONOS – “Celestial Mechanics“
- Walk Among The Dead Things
- Judas Cradle
- The Ancient Deceit
- The Past Will Wither And Die
- A Treaty With Reality
- Voyeurs Of Nature’s Tragedies
- Birth Womb
- Beyond The Stream Of Consciousness
- Johnny Blade * Black Sabbath Cover
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