Symphonic metal hidden gem – review of Heaven’s Guardian’s “Chronos”

Author Daniel Agapito - 15.3.2024

Symphonic metal is not easy to execute. As the complex orchestration, melodic vocals and general grandiose sound is not for any band. Veteran Brazilian outfit Heaven’s Guardian bring an insanely well-executed final product to the table in their fourth studio album, “Chronos”. With the help of the Goiás Youth Symphony Orchestra, the final product presented is a true grandiose and epic gem of an underground symphonic metal project.

Having been originally formed back in 1997 in the city of Goiânia, located in the midwest region of Brazil, the seven-piece have gathered a strong cult following not only in Brazil but in many other regions as well. Having achieved great heights with their 2004 sophomore project “D.O.L.L.”, fans would have to wait another eleven years for their next album, “Signs”, which featured a radically different lineup, notably, the absence of lead vocalist and founding member Carlos Zema. Last year’s “Chronos” marks not only the return of the band into the studio, but also the return of Zema on vocals.

One of the undoubtable pillars of symphonic and power metal music is the orchestration. While many bands nowadays opt for orchestration via digital instruments, the Goiás outfit called in their home state’s youth symphony orchestra, which paid off in full. The chorus for the single “Artificial Times” describes their work on the album perfectly: “All mankind is changing now… seek your own direction, sky is the limit”. While the members of the orchestra were indeed young, they were in no way inexperienced, being able to perform quite complicated pieces on many instruments. Tracks such as “Valhalla Call” and “Sirens of the Past” demonstrate beautifully the work of the Goiás Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Another aspect of the album which happens to be incredibly well-executed is the chemistry and subsequent dynamic between both vocalists – Natalia Sarsgård and Carlos Zema. Natalia graces each track with her majestic and oddly soothing voice, while Carlos Zema’s powerfully remarkable voice soars over the tracks, like an eagle flying over its territory. “Sail Away” is a great example of the versatility which is brought to the table with both singers. Singing over the same riff, they are able to bring two completely different interpretations, two different feelings to the song. Their duets are also remarkable, creating a beautiful symphony of voices that do contrast each other, but also fit perfectly together.

To make all of the already mentioned elements together into one cohesive album, the production has to be stellar. “Chronos” does not fail in that regard, having an all-star team of Roy Z (producing), Geovani Maia (co-producing, editing), Brendan Duffey (mastering), Josh Lopez (editing), Adriano Daga (editing) and Addasi Addasi (producing, mixing). This star-studded cast leaves little to be desired, intricately weaving all of the pieces of this ever-so-complicated puzzle together. The output is an album which in a bit more than one hour is able to be beautifully complex, without sacrificing cohesion.

Concluding, Heaven’s Guardian’s “Chronos” is for sure a must-listen for any symphonic metal fan. It would not surprise me at all if in a few years this album is discussed as one of the biggest hidden gems/overlooked albums in the history of symphonic metal. Here’s to hoping their next album comes a bit quicker than this one! Go take a listen if you haven’t yet….