Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chton - The Devil Builds (2012)

After an incredibly explosive split with sister Norwegian band Cleaver, death metallers Chton are back at it with the release of their second full-length, The Devil Builds. Indeed, this is the act's first major album in a drought-ridden eight years--certainly a welcome leap back into the metal scene--but they seem to be aiming for something higher with the record: recognition and success. No longer will a band of such caliber sit back in the shadows. After all, they have a newly reinstated line-up, the chops, and the fiery spirit of something just short of the bludgeoning death metal movement of the late eighties.

Since the split, the band's sound has barely changed. Much of the drive remains the same--chugging riffs and mid-paced tempos familiar--but since the sneak peak earlier this year, "Death Awaits," the band has upped their game. For instance, opening the record, "Faustian Resolve" chimes in with an advisory that disobeying the law leads to an unfortunate consequences; the framework this particular track esablishes holds true for the rest of the The Devil Builds, with remarkable consistency obviously Chton's strong point. "Scavenger of a Dead World," "Gods of the Flesh," and "Rise Black God" form a triple entente, pummeling listeners with sheer force through an abundance of heavily palm-muted guitar riffs and the occasional blast beat, courtesy of stout drumming, as well. As expected and unchanged from the Screaming for Death split, "Death Awaits" makes a second appearance, reminding listeners of the reason it was stuck to the collaboration in the first place: brutality.

Refusing to let the torch burn out, "Contagion (The Disease)" sounds eerily like its predecessor until it hits the sweet spot at about 1:07, the track spiraling into a decaying chord shuffle and a tremolo-picked, double bass-backed sledgehammer. "Lord and Master" jumps into the fray for a short 2:40 and flies by in a blink of an eye, only to be followed up by  "Nithon Undertow's" melancholy, contrasting intro. Next to the other songs on the album, the track emits dark, charismatic attitude.

Surprisingly, a cover makes the track listing, too, Abscess' "Ratbag," gelling perfectly with Chton's aesthetic, despite vocals placed in the higher register. The closer, "Babalon and the Beast Conjoined," proves to be the most experimental of the bunch, letting the guitar riffs breathe for half a second before the song falls into a headbang-inducing groove. 

The Devil Builds puts an interesting spin on the Chton legacy, making the impossible to find debut, demos, and splits wholly irrelevant to all but the hardcore fan and collector. Pushing Chton as a band with a fresh take on life and a fresh perspective in the world of metal, the album marches toward what the act has worked so hard to relish in a 12 year existence. These Norwegians have turned a page, rewritten their personal playbook, and started over anew. Success achieved.


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