Written by: Lord Hsrah
We've all been hearing of people going to space these past few days, with Jeff Bezos being the latest to do so. And while some of us may start to wonder whether or not space is the final frontier here, Epoch of Chirality prepares for launch with their debut album Nucleosynthesis, where space is just the beginning and what lies ahead is a mystery best known to the unknown. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, lift off!
Epoch of Chirality is a one man sci-fi metal project started by England-based musician Richard How, and Nucleosynthesis is their first full-length album that follows their 2020 EP Dawn of Chirality. The album, dubbed as "sci-fi metal," has 9 instrumental songs in total, all of which, quite obviously, draw heavily from sci-fi soundscapes. Nucleosynthesis starts off pretty slow, and in general, the build up to the actual beefy material of every song takes quite a while too. There's plenty usage of synth and other electronic instruments to help create those soundscapes like they were straight out of the 80's. A lot of it is shared by modern synthwave acts, and what they do. Quite frankly speaking, at times it does feel like a nice space-synth album, albeit heavier in all tones and textures.
Style-wise, the album explores a bunch of different aspects, including a clear Mediterranean flavor on the song "Caravan to the Midnight Mountain," which kinda projects a mental image of what Sleep's Dopesmoker album cover looks like, but in the night of space. There's some cool synth and electronic sections that sound a lot like certain RPG soundtracks which also help to construct that spacey, sci-fi-ey image. Richard doesn't shy from incorporating certain unorthodox sounds, like a pure strings section, some xylophones and some brass too. The guitars hold up pretty well and there's some really smooth solo sections which add that nice power metal-ish touch which, in my opinion, elevates the entire sci-fi theme. However, the guitar work, otherwise, is almost fully dominated by progressive elements with not much of those tasty riffs one gets to hear in power or heavy metal. The guitars, thick in tone as they are, are mostly chugged and just add more to the heaviness. All this coupled with drums tighter and heavier than a standard synthwave album add the 'metal' to the "sci-fi metal" label of this album.
I think the songs are constructed pretty well and have an appropriate balance of metal works, as well as synth works. Most of the songs have dark overtones and "sinister, mysterious" passages like most synthwave stuff from, say, Perturbator or Dynatron do--and so does metal too--but Richard manages to shift and mix it up by adding one of those unorthodox instrument passages or changing the key here and there, which adds some element of dynamicity to the record. The synth and 80's sci-fi influence which stems from the various sections that seem like they were taken out of older sci-fi media are pretty obvious, and adding guitar work to synth isn't uncommon either since even Dynatron does that. If you're like me and you love your synth just as much as your metal, then you might even argue that this is just a heavier, progressive synth album, but in my view, that is where the album stands out from your standard synth albums. It's the instrumentation, the metal guitar sections, and the grandeur of it when it all comes together. Unlike synth albums which tend to stick to a particular tone/style theme, this one explores various "frontiers," so to speak. The keys/synth/electronica carry most of the melody and add the effects, while the guitars and drums help to give it the depth and heaviness that's prominent in metal, which isn't necessarily the case in synth, where the guitar work is sparse and only rarely added for extra effect; here the guitars give the album its identity and without it, it'd probably be just another synth album.
Nucleosynthesis is a fairly complicatedly constructed album, and for one man doing it all, I think it's a pretty solid effort. Now, whether the argument of it being 'just a heavier and progressive synth album' sounds like criticism or a compliment depends entirely on you and how you like your sci-fi, synth, and metal. But regardless of what you like, I must say, the track "Boreal" is an absolute banger and everyone reading this needs to check it out--I guess that'd be like giving it a fair chance. Even the band and album names are derived from scientific terms in physics and chemistry--that's pretty "sci" in itself, haha.
Oh, and the album cover is super rad too!
Epoch of Chirality - Nucleosynthesis will be released July 23rd, 2021. Pre-order here!
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!