Canada’s Chron Goblin may be a new name on you (well, they were a new name on me, anyway) but they have plied their trade for a few years now and Backwater (Ripple), their third full length release, is a decent hopping-on point. Chron Goblin inhabit that strange hinterland, beloved of late, of attempting to inject new vibes and energy into tropes and styles that were current when flares were still resolutely in fashion.
Given that you’re reading this review on this website, it is a fairly good bet that you’re a fan of Black Sabbath in general and Tony Iommi in particular. As exercises in nostalgia and keeping up with how much Sabbath still influence today’s heavy bands, then you will find much to your liking on this record. The band’s love of the riff is highly in evidence, wrapped around a classic rock sensibility that, for once, sits well with the more obvious stoner and desert rock influences upon which the band have historically built their reputation. One suspects that the band’s membership of the Kyuss fan club is fully paid up.
Backwater sees a band that have honed their craft well and, for the most part, it’s delivered with gusto. The main issue with Backwater isn’t the obvious influences (if you don’t like Kyuss, you need to see me after school for some lessons), nor the all too derivative sleeve art (honestly, this could be from any one of dozens of their ilk). The real issue for Backwater is that the songs just aren’t that memorable. Everything is well put together and played with energy but, as for getting the hairs standing up on the back of your neck? Regrettably, I didn’t get any of those moments and the overall feeling was one of disappointment at what could have been. You know you’re in trouble when you’re thinking to yourself “I quite like track four, what’s that called again?”
Consequently, this is an album of what might have been rather than what is. Whilst there is a decent adherence to the riff rule book, there isn’t anything here that stays too long in the memory. Whilst you’re listening to it, you get the sense that, stoner sensibilities aside, not everything has clicked for them. As records of this ilk go, it’s pretty decent but it’s not quite the infectious and energised masterwork that you suspect the band are hoping for. A creditable record but, on this occasion, the cigars remain in the humidor.