M.H.X's Chronicles is a quartet of musicians out of Brazil. This is their first full-length, Infinite Ocean. A little background from the band:
The band’s concept is inspired on the Irish writer C.S. Lewis famous book series “The Chronicles of Narnia”. The proposal is to tell a chronicle, a kind of history, in each album (so, there’s the origin of the band’s name), illustrating it all with melodic orchestrations chocking with an aggressive instrumental and the Murillo H. Xavier’s brutal vocals.
Funny they should mention this, because I kept thinking about Voyage of the Dawn Tredder before even reading that synopsis. As the cover and title would have you surmise, there is definitely a nautical twist to this album. The introductory track even goes full seafarer on us instead of obligatory acoustic or classical sounding build. It's a f@#king shanty is what it is. How many albums in this genre can you say that about?
Unique sounds like this continue throughout the duration on songs like "The Way Home." The heavy dose of synthesizer additions take this beyond its boundaries. The tags say melodic death metal, but given the hardcore tinge to the vocals and overall melodic choices, I'd feel more comfortable calling this metalcore. It's on the cusp of groups like In Flames, but Infinite Ocean is far more akin to Killswitch Engage or (early) All That Remains.
Don't take this as a detraction, as these 4 gents do what they do quite well. Tracks like "At the End," further showcase how they stretch the usual sound palette. And the piano on "Outcry is gorgeous." This track even features a Children of Bodom-style synth solo. "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes? Got you covered. I will say that I felt this track (by far my least favorite) is marred by the attempt to core out on the rest of the song, but the interlude worked nicely and adds to the folky aesthetic.
But if we really want to talk folky, "A Winter Song" is where it's at. It opens with a bouncy, Hobbit-worthy, Equilibrium-style intro before going all Akerfeldt on us with some acoustic guitar. Enter djenty guitar chords. That may sound awkward, but somehow, someway, it works. Even the tracks I was unsure about have something to offer. "Castles in the Sand" has some great parts including a ripping technical death metal riff towards the end.
As for the singing, it's a mixture of Howard Jones and Wilderun. The clean singing mostly sounds quite passionate, albeit a bit melodramatic. Again, there's a "folkiness" to it that keeps it in class with better respected groups than your metalcore legions of today. Thankfully, it's not cut and paste, radio-ready, emo-nasal delivery.
All in all, this is an interesting debut and a particular fusion of folk and metalcore I don't think I have heard before. I'd even venture to call it folkcore (cue groans). Whatever you choose to call it, M.H.X's Chronicles have a lot of unique strengths to build off of, and I look forward to hearing how they grow and tighten up over future releases. You can pick up Infinite Oceans on bandcamp for $7. It's also streaming on Soundcloud.