Chrysalis are a perplexing listen. They don’t really bear any resemblance to any of the genre’s cited in their press release. Which isn’t to say that they’re unique they aren’t. But there is something there. Whatever that something is it isn’t even obvious song writing chops.
All that being said, I think ‘Focus On The Centre’ is a great album. Because for whatever reason, and I still can’t decide why, it is incredibly catchy and positively demands immediate replay.
In the heavier moments the band don’t exactly become extreme. Vocally adopt a black metal-esque retch and mix it with instrumentals that aren’t massively heavy, but have a pleasingly nu-metal quality. During the choruses they tend to focus on stomping mid-tempos and a soaring vocal that brings to mind Mike Patton’s nasal approach circa ‘The Real Thing’. Though there are similar irreverent touches to this album, Chrysalis don’t seem as if they’re taking themselves overly serious, they don’t exactly challenge Faith No More in the quirk stakes. That’s about like saying one day in the monsoon was wetter than the other though as few bands can pull themselves up that particular bar.
Repeated listens expose a sophisticated sense of melody within their songs, the more sedate moments featuring tasteful guitar leads and melodic bass lines that rob the music a touch of muscle, but allow the band much more depth. Whereas most bands focus on digitised beefy guitars, Chrysalis seem more interested in the dynamics of the song, or the riff than production values. Nearly every song here has a moment that you want to re-visit whether it’s the oppressively slow breakdowns in ‘Thoughts Behind’ or the sedate grooves of ‘Ms.Me’.
Which does bring up one of the main weaknesses of the album, the mix doesn’t feel quite right. Sometimes I feel the drums are too loud and that there’s next to no low-end to back up those more aggressive moments. Yet the bass is a clear leading presence in other parts of the album. The whole thing feels a touch dry, which doesn’t sit too well for my personal tastes. But, there are moments like the opening of closer ‘My Foresaken’ where this scratchy aesthetic is incredibly satisfying.
The electronics that fleetingly pepper this record don’t do anything to add to the songs. Mostly they seem tacked on, and not fully integrated into the sound. Excepting a few occasions where pianos tinkle through the racket drummed up by the rest of the band, where they give Chrysalis lacking in most other bands.
Ultimately any lack of imagination in Chrysalis’ sound is made up for by their quirky song writing and tasteful melodies. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something really special to come out of this band one day.