CHRMR are almost, but not quite, metal. On their third album, Warbirds, they are heavy when it comes to the riffs – the mid–section of ‘Lends’ could have been written by Remission–era Mastodon – and they sway far enough off–kilter to be thought of as prog. However, that distinction of ‘almost, but not quite’ comes down to the vocals. Closer to those of Matt Bellamy or Chris Cornell than, say, Tom Araya, they feel too “soft” to be metal – which is why some listeners are going to love them. Obviously clean singing doesn’t serve as an automatic disqualification from metal (Dio, anyone?) and Warbirds has strong cross–over appeal between different circles, in large part due to these prog leanings. 

CHRMR take the expansive approach of bands like Opeth, The Ocean, Mouth of The Architect or Burst (changes in mood in ‘Don’t Walk Away’ are an excellent example), dialling back the throttle in favour of something more cerebral, such as in ‘Gold Serpents’, and at other times, more melodic, with ‘Don’t Walk Away’ a soaring example of the latter. With that all said, Warbirds is more angsty than exploratory, with the vocals bringing a tension to proceedings, and as chunky as the riffs get, the mood is cold rather than aggressive. It’s also quite a short album – especially for music so prog infused – at 30 minutes. Mixtape (or playlist) compatriots would be Battles or Pulled Apart By Horses rather than Rush or Camel. Almost, but not quite, metal, and this approach only serves to widen the appeal of Warbirds.

Warbirds is out now and can be purchased here.

Words: Gregory Brooks

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