Knowing their debut single “Silver Cloak”, you don’t expect Chalice to join mass of mostly faceless classic metal parvenus that keep popping up throughout Scandinavia with their first full-length. If anything, “Trembling Crown” thickly underlines the fact that the Finns have been a tad more playful and inventive than their contemporaries ever since they started out in 2016.
With songs composed during the last five years, the album is both a condensation of how the group has developed and a harbinger of exciting things to come, wrapped up in an aptly mysterious narrative. “It follows a distinct red thread with chronological events happening”, explains guitarist, singer and storyteller Verneri. “The title refers to a position of power being overtaken by its very self, falling into the depths of madness.”
Regarding a front man whose pipes remind of late icons such as Pagan Altar's Terry Jones or Mark Shelton from Manilla Road, Chalice seem to be comfortable amid these two legends also from a stylistic point of view. “I found it extremely motivating to use a wide range of different styles, after I’d been rather limited on our previous releases”, the mastermind confesses.
The record as such showcases what’s possible in terms of variety within this genre. For example, the epic ‘Stars’ filters Wishbone Ash’s “Argus” through proverbial cracks of doom, complete with vintage synthesizer sounds, tempo changes and lead breaks galore, while ‘Hunger of the Depth’ and ‘The Key’ are evocative duets with guest singer Jemina Pouttu, propelling the underlying plot.
Elsewhere, we have the baleful instrumental ‘Karkanxholl’ and the rhythmically complex ‘Wings I’ve Known’, which spotlights new drummer Olli Törrönen, as well as the title song with its – yes indeed – Flamenco interlude, all confirming the exceptional status of these youngsters who seem to share the mindset, if not sound, of their oddball countrymen Babylon Whores and Mana Mana.
“This is when the darker part of the album unfolds”, Verneri reveals. “What caused this to happen is up for the listener to decide while reading the lyrics. The diversity also mirrors the main character’s torment – but is the voice his own?”
Or to sum it up in more biblical terms, you should not “let this Chalice pass” from you …