The Chant – Approacher Review

Band: The Chant
Album: Approacher
Label: Lifeforce Records
Genre: Alt Rock
Country: Finland
Release Date: 23rd June, 2017

So, straight up and right away: no metal to be found here. This is alternative rock, in the vein of the 80’s bands, lots of swirling, chiming guitars, impassioned vocals, atmospherics, and shifting moods. Nothing wrong with any of that, nothing at all, but the warning is right here right now: If you’re looking for a metal record, look away.

The Chant started their career back in 1999 and have since carved out a number of impressive releases. Their sound has varied somewhat but no more than any other band that experiment within the confines of their style. This year they release a four song EP entitled Approacher that shows a band carrying on steady and confident, pushing forward, playing the kind of music they love with joy and conviction.

Approacher is basically four songs of varying textures, all kept cohesive by the ethereal vocals of Ilpo Paasela and the chiming guitars and plaintive piano. This is a moody piece, all the songs flowing together to create a melancholic feel of loss and redemption. Think of Anathema since they dropped their death metal leanings and you’ll get the idea. There’s lots of U2 here, not the anthemic style the band is most known for, but the textures and the piano sound of the earlier albums, especially a record like Unforgettable Fire. This is pastels on black here, flickering pinks, purples and blues set against a dark background. The vocals soar at times but most often stay at an even timbre and pace, telling the story of each song. Nothing here rocks outright, but the songs do move and they never become boring or staid. Tiny bits of prog flicker here and there, mostly floating in the mix, with traces of Porcupine Tree surfacing now and again. In fact, the work of Steve Wilson might be a good starting comparison between the two bands. If you like his work, you’ll like this.

The album opens with “Unsolved,” a song full of dynamics, peaks and valleys. The guitars will ring to the forefront only to drop off, giving away to keyboards and haunting vocals. It surges and flows, driving towards its natural, emotional conclusion.
There’s something about the spoken word parts of second song “To Surrender” that remind me of Queensryche’s “NM 156” in an odd way (that’s about as “metal” as this gets), that and the weird electronic bleeps and blorts that punctuate the background. The guitar here is pointed and searing, cutting through the computerized feel, the drums thumping and riding forward.

“Approacher” opens with that piano sound that accentuates most of U2’s October album, a singular, haunting chime that bleeds through the whole song. This one is all mood and drift, with a feel akin to lying on your back in the ocean and staring up at a starry sky. And then, all at once, the tide picks up and glides you towards shore.

Closing song “To Be Seen” is a soaring, emotional epic, and ends the record with a haunting spoken word passage. In its own way it summarizes the entire EP in one swoop, picking up all the nuances of the former tracks and bringing them to their ultimate conclusion here.

What we have here is an alternative rock record played with heart and soul that, in a just world, would get plenty of radio airplay. Are they doing anything new? Are they redefining rock? No, but they’re damned good at what they actually do, which is to compose songs that shift and move and have spirit. Not too many bands can claim to have this kind talent and The Chant has it in spades.

Rating: 8/10

1. Unsolved
2. To Surrender
3. Approacher
4. To Be Seen

Total Playing Time: 20:23

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