Chorosia - Stray Dogs review
|Release date:||September 2023|
01. Stray Dogs
02. The Shrike (Fire Assault)
05. Hands, Switchblades, And Vile Vortices
The place of the EP as a record format in the age of digital media seems to be becoming increasingly arbitrary; without vinyl size to consider, one might typically resort to track number or record length, but in that case, why is the 29-minute Reign In Blood a full album, but releases such as the 35-minute Jar Of Flies are classed as EPs? And ultimately, does it even matter?
That second question was the one that felt more pertinent when I found myself mulling whether to classify Stray Dogs in our database as an album or EP; at 34 minutes, it certainly feels like a full album, but other databases, reviews, and the band’s own label all seem to differ. In the end, it’s fairly irrelevant except for archiving and trivia purposes; the album sounds the same whatever you call it, and it’s the sound of the contents of the release, rather than the format that they’re considered to be distributed in, that is the important thing. Chorosia, an Austrian proggish sludge band, is a name that came up on my radar before with 2021’s A Call To Love, an album that lingered just strongly enough at the fringes of memory in order for me to vaguely recognize the band name when their new album popped up on the release radar. With Stray Dogs, the Viennese quartet may have cemented themselves more firmly into my gray matter.
Underlining the utility of the overfilled, sloppy lists of new albums that I build throughout each year, I checked my 2021 lists after coming across Stray Dogs and found my former self’s description of A Call To Love as a sprawling sludge release with regular grimness, one that made a stronger impact with its longer and proggier songs. Therefore, it’s not a huge surprise that the two songs that stand out most to me on Stray Dogs are the two that pass the 10-minute mark. The first of these, the album-opening title track, is easily the most memorable song that Chorosia have assembled here; built around a strongly hooky central motif, the song is a conveyor belt of closely connected tasty riffs, guitar licks, and later on a great solo.
“Stray Dogs” is on the groovier end of the sludge spectrum; while it does have a range of intensity that peaks with a blast-laden segment midway through, it never threatens to reach the levels of extremity that appeared at times on A Call To Love. This is also the case for “Reflections”, the other 10-minuter here; the peaks of heaviness reached on this song lack the dissonance or abrasion that appeared, for example, in the title track of Chorosia’s previous outing. To be honest, I think it’s a wise move by the band; pure misanthropic violence can certainly be satisfying in sludge (which my upcoming review of Rorcal will affirm), but I think the group sound a bit more natural at that they’re doing on “Stray Dogs” and “Reflections”, leaning a bit more towards the southern rock side of sludge with the swaggering riffs and slick guitar solos, and not going overboard when the push the dial a bit. Additionally, there’s some prog rock influence on “Reflections” in the long, dreamy clean opening to the track, featuring extended guitar noodling and vocals closer to those used in stoner/psychedelic rock.
Considering the supposedly EP-worthy length of Stray Dogs, this duo of songs represents over half the record’s runtime. The bulk of the rest is taken up by the still somewhat lengthy “Hands, Switchblades, And Vile Vortices”, another meaty cut with a solid selection of riffs slow and fast, and further demonstration of the group’s tasty guitar tone. It is with the remaining ‘proper’ song (excluding the interlude “Tintinnabula”), however, that I think Stray Dogs loses its way a tad; while moments of Stray Dogs do up the ante in terms of tempo and intensity, “The Shrike (Fire Assault)” is something of a wildcard with how thrashy it is. Some might find it to be a welcome change of pace, particularly those with more of a preference for thrash, but while the song does still find space for a solid solo and a couple of tasty slower moments midway through, I would say the bulk of the least interesting material on this record can be found in the first half of this song, as the same drum beat pounds along incessantly for 2-3 minutes in tandem with forgettable riffs and phlegmy rasps that I find less convincing than the vocals that appear on the remaining songs.
It's a slight misstep that threatens to curtail the early momentum established by the title track, which I think is comfortably the highlight of Stray Dogs. However, even if it never reaches those heights again, the end product is very satisfying overall courtesy of a solid second half. The production values have clearly been upgraded in the past couple of years, and when used to accentuate riffs as appetizing as the strongest ones on display here, it’s a potent combination. This may ‘only’ be an EP, but it’s one of the better sludge efforts released in 2023.
||Written on 22.09.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not|
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