Cronian – Erathems (Season of Mist/Underground Activists)

Friday, 29th November 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Almost one of those “Do we really need this?” type of albums and/or projects, the Cronian offshoot of Borknagar has made it to album #3 with Erathems. Designed as the vehicle for full-on collaboration between Bork mainman Oystein G. Brun and vocalist Andreas “Vintersorg” Hedlund, one can quickly cite all sorts of similarities between the two bands, so if semi-redundancy and Bork’s Empiricism-and up catalog is your bag, then Cronian should do just fine.

DR would be remiss if we didn’t profess to our utter fondness for Vintersorg’s various vocal mutations. The man – whether in his solo band, Bork, Fission, and now Cronian – has one of the most distinguishable set of pipes in all of extreme metal, so let’s not find fault with Brun for wanting to give it yet another platform. A lot of his vocal choices are a smidge characteristic of what he already does in Bork, though, such as the growled/clean blend heard on “Cold Wave Eruption” or the shimmering layers that wrap themselves around “Blackwater Horizon.”

The progressive/atmospheric mounting of “Chemical Dawn” is one the songs here that wouldn’t mesh with Borknagar; it’s keyboard patterns fly too close to prog, which is definitely not the right territory for them. But it’s the spacey, wide-open “End(durance) Part III” and Vintersorg-dominated “Core Resiliency” that eventually give Erathems its mark, still somewhat rooted in what’s expected of the pair, yet levitating on the periphery.

With Borknagar remaining a tried-and-true creative force on the Scandinavian side-black metal front, you’d think Brun and Vintersorg would feel the need to explore some new, or even treacherous terrain with Cronian. Obviously, that’s not the case, so one would hope this doesn’t get mistaken for a precursor to another Bork album, or worse – discarded ideas for the pair’s main outfit.

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