Indie’s Metal Monarchs
Since the birth of SoCal’s Chrysalis in 2003, this band of young guns has been working hard and waiting patiently to garner some recognition and fans. One criticism from their past was that their music was hard to label, and when someone did attempt to brand Chrysalis’s genre, the result was ridiculously long and confusing (symphonic-post-emo-metal-jazz-synth-indie-goth-pop).
Regardless of their perceived schizophrenia, the unsigned band DIY-ed it through numerous self-booked tours and 2006’s self-released, self-titled LP. Chrysalis finally found some appreciation in Europe with a steadily building fan-base, which landed them some very cool shows, including a stint on the Vans Warped Tour and some licensing and endorsement deals, as well.
Focus On The Center is Chrysalis’s triumphant return after a nearly seven-year hiatus, which is pretty long considering they were in their early twenties then. But don’t let their youth fool you—these guys are veterans of their scene, and they’ve been through some tough times. Their early tours were hardly the stuff of rock and roll fantasies, and 2012 saw them dealing with the overdose/suicide of their close fiend, Focus On The Center lyric collaborator, and former singer of Lindbergh Skies, Jeff Davis. The cover art of FOTC is an homage to Davis.
In less than thirty minutes of music, Chrysalis manages to push the boundaries of genre even more, with the song order arranged to be a perfect journey. The opener, “Sounds of the Playground,” harkens back to the heyday of Generation-Y emo (think Thrice and The Used), plus there is some electronic influence and samples as well. “Thoughts Behind” is a return to their roots with a more symphonic metal edge that turns into a post-emo hopscotch that lands in a scream-y metal chug. Then the album starts to incorporate more groove metal hooks and even some undistorted jazz guitar. There’s even a little grunge thrown in on “Saturn Waits,” whose first few verses borrow the melody from Sound Garden’s “Jesus Christ Pose.”
Ironically, the genre-bending attribute that defines the music of Chrysalis and Focus On The Center is also maybe what has limited their accessibility. You could argue that what some see as their ability to mash up several different genres is really more of a stacking of styles rather than a fusion of them, even to the point of causing some awkward, disjointed transitions within the songs themselves.
The band has yet to announce any big tours, but if the past is any indication, Chrysalis will be headed out on the road soon to tirelessly entertain the US, and will most definitely hit Europe. Keep an eye out for them this summer on the festival circuit as well, perhaps at Germany’s M’era Luna Festival in August. But first, pick up a copy of Focus On The Center and support independent music.