Air Force Chron

Air Force Chron EP Review

When James Borrowdale isn’t rewriting the prog-rock rule book with space-rock kings AWOOGA as the band’s sole guitarist, he’s pounding away behind the drums – and blazing a certain choice substance – as part of the party-doom duo AIR FORCE CHRON. While AFC is undoubtedly keeping the man busy during the recent AWOOGA downtime – who currently have a new release in the post-production phase – every band deserves to be appreciated as a separate entity in its own right. Besides, ‘side project’ is a dirty, undermining phrase.

In a recent Bear Chest review, I wrote about the influence of Royal Blood in rock over the last two years. This is an influence that has clearly affected much more than just the musical palettes of a large quantity of emerging rock bands, as we continue to see an influx of two-piece bands. Rock duos who often take themselves intensely seriously, with their immaculately slicked back hair and finest Topshop apparel. On the other hand, you have AIR FORCE CHRON. Whether or not AFC are an intentional parody of such two-pieces, the combination of their bass-heavy, sludgy grooves and brazen thematics is big, bombastic, but ultimately entertaining and refreshing in equal measure. You might have deduced as much the instant you became aware that the duo place their sound in the ‘party-doom’ section of the rock spectrum. If such a genre now exists then I’m opting in. You should too.

Following the release of their debut single Abriffham Linchron (a genuine title, yes) last year, AIR FORCE CHRON – completed by Michael ‘FLAME BOI’ Aitken on bass & vocals – didn’t really storm onto the Sheffield rock scene so much as they crawled slothfully in a class B-induced state. They probably wouldn’t have had it any other way. Still, the image of America’s sixteenth president hopelessly slouched in his favourite leather-bound chair as he suffers from a particularly aggressive bout of the munchies is one that will always bring us amusement. AFC’s debut EP – the appropriately titled Minimum Effort/Maximum Volume – often pays homage to Black Sabbath’s third album Master Of Reality – albeit in a daft fashion – with the release’s first track Knights Hemplar serving as a colossal demonstration of laden bass dynamics. JB and FB set a hallucinogenic course for the remainder of the EP with their yells of ‘The crusaders of the leaf’.

Weed Babes (420 BC) follows a similar pattern with its slushy riffs and hazy howls. Under the influence or not, ME/MV does gravitate towards repetition at times; which is why three tracks seems an ideal length for the band’s first EP. Having said that, Necrochronibong – a contender for Sheffield song title of the year – is surprisingly progressive and engaging for a ten-minute stoner opus. The duo exercise some unexpected restraint, with FB’s early wah-tremolo effects contributing to a mesmeric tone – unusual territory in the context of this EP. Once the crushing, heavy-handed riffs do re-emerge, we are apparently invited to hear a world record attempt for the ‘least amount of beats in a bar’. AFC have outdoomed doom itself on this one. It is worth paying the price of admission for a CHRON gig purely to see a crowd attempt to synchronise their headbanging with this brutal finale.

All things considered, AIR FORCE CHRON aren’t going to significantly enrich your musical tapestry in a progressive sense. But with Minimum Effort/Maximum Volume, the band have certainly shown that they are well informed when it comes to groovy riffs and raucous doom dynamics. There is enough potential here to suggest that AFC can become much more than a novelty duo. To quote the Crusaders of the Leaf, JB & FLAME BOI: Hail Satan.

Chris Lord

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