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Here are the 20 most essential heavy bands from Canada who deserve the spotlight, and are causing avalanches in the Great White North…
One might assume they know what Chron Goblin is all about just by hearing their name. And there's something to that -- the Calgary, Alberta, quartet definitely give you the killer stoner metal you want from them. But what makes Chron Goblin stand out is the hint of darkness and anger that lines even their more free-wheeling tracks. These guys bring the party, but not at the loss of metal's honest vinegar; it's this attitude that had made them a Canadian band worth keeping an eye on right now.
The band's new album, Here Before, leans a little harder into the darkness than usual. Sure, the second track is named Giving In To Fun, but even that song has a pissed-off vibe to it. Meanwhile, numbers like Out Of My Mind and Giant have a slow swagger to them that feels heavy with menace, as though they're theme songs for big bad wolves and dangerous strangers.
We caught up with the band about the album, how they've grown, and what it means to give in to fun.
What are you most excited for fans to hear on Here Before?
Brett Wittingham, drums: My favorite tracks on the album include Oblivion, Giving in to Fun, War, and Slipping Under. Oblivion is a great opener, it’s got some bite but doesn’t hit too hard as to scare anyone away, leaving lots of room for Josh’s sweet, melodic vocals. Giving in to Fun is one of the shorter, most concise tracks on the album -- a ripper from start to finish and one of the most fun tracks for me to play live. War, like Giving in to Fun, is another fairly technical track to play live. Slipping Under is a bit unpredictable until you get a few listens under your belt –- it’s a really fun arrangement, lots of twists and turns from beginning to end. It also features some great studio elements that really add to the song: electronic drums and 808 drops, and Leslie speaker cabinet for that dreamy, swirly, atmospheric guitar tone.
I also have to mention Ghost and Giant, as these tracks took us a bit outside of our typical songwriting and production style, but turned out to be some of the most unique tracks on the album. They are much more focused on a cohesive vibe and atmospheric, psychedelic elements, instead of just being straight ahead riff-banger tracks like some of the other songs. Ghost gets pretty hypnotic and trance-inducing, and I feel like we nailed the production on Giant, the drums and overdubbed percussion re-enforce the lumbering and thunderous steps of the song title.
How do you feel you guys have most grown between this album and Backwater?
BW: I really feel like our songwriting approach, our pre-production efforts, and our experience in terms of what to expect in the studio and how to make the best of our time, have all progressed significantly since the last album. With Backwater, we intentionally wanted to get out of our comfort zone and go on an adventure to record the album and incorporate influences from the Pacific Northwest we were inspired by at the time (both in terms of songwriting and production style). It was such a rewarding experience spending two weeks in Portland and working with Adam Pike.
With Here Before, we focused a lot more on pre-production, incorporating great input from Josh Rob Gwilliam who produced the album. We made plenty of changes to the songs as they were at the time, trimming lots of fat and tightening the screws. It was also a huge asset to be able to stay directly at OCL Studios while we were recording. We took full advantage of the rehearsal space there when we weren’t tracking, and being on-site at all times lead to lots of great spontaneous moments, like tracking piano and percussion overdubs, being able to listen back to rough mixes on the incredible Neve console into the wee hours of the morning, and all-in-all just being completely absorbed in the recording process.
It seems like you guys went with a lusher, not-quite-as-crunch-forward guitar tone this time around. Was that intentional? If so, why go that way?
Devin 'Darty' Purdy, guitars: I think an overall goal for the production of the album was to have it real and organic-sounding, avoiding the use of digital enhancements as much as possible. I only used two guitar heads (Orange MKIII Rockerverb and OR15) and no other guitar pedals and very minimal after effects. We also made a conscious effort to only have a very moderate amount of gain and treble (opposed to all of the previous Chron Goblin albums on which they were cranked) to ensure the individual notes are very clearly defined. For all clean guitar sections, we used the Jimi Hendrix approach of, rather than use a clean channel, we just turned down the volume and tone knobs of the guitar which creates that warm, toned-down clean sound while keeping the gain channel settings intact.
Plenty of bands have played stoner metal of late, but you guys have stuck it past that style being trendy. What do you think has kept you going where other bands haven't?
DP: Chron Goblin has had the goal of trying not to write the same song twice, and I think we’ve managed to stay true to that even after 45-plus songs. We strive to be technically proficient while being accessible enough that we’re too-metal-for-the-rock-scene but too-rock-for-the-metal-scene. Since the beginning, we vowed to never imitate another band’s sound and always wrote songs that challenged and satisfied our artistic desires. We’ve always felt that fads come and go, but if you write music that comes from the heart and soul, it’s much more likely to stand the test of time.
BW: I think we’ve just tried to write songs that we would want to listen to and that aren’t bound by a specific genre. We definitely listen to and are influenced by bands that get labelled as stoner rock or stoner metal, and we’ve certainly benefited at times by being associated with that type of music and opportunities that have come with it. But amongst the four of us, we also have really diverse tastes and influences that go way beyond rock and metal. We’ve never been in the process of writing a song and had to stop and say, ‘That’s not stoner-y enough’. It’s always been a collaborative effort between the four of us and I think that’s reflected in our songwriting that dabbles into other genres like punk, hardcore, psychedelia, blues, prog, etc.
Listen to our exclusive stream of Chron Goblin's Here Before below:
Chron Goblin's Here Before comes out Friday, September 27, on Grand Hand Records, and is available for preorder.
Make sure to catch Chron Goblin on tour with Black Mastiff at one of the shows listed below: