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There was a time when death metal was extremely difficult to separate from its thrash metal forbearers, particularly in the mid 80s when the earliest versions of the style in "Seven Churches" and "Morbid Visions" were unleashed upon the world. For the most part these albums were still considered part of the broader thrash metal paradigm and it wasn't until Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" hit the scene that it was fully treated as a separate style, though the thrash trappings were definitely still in the equation at that juncture. Some modern acts have been trying to rekindle this long forgotten time period, though not quite going into full revival mode and naming themselves after Possessed or Death songs and being virtual tribute bands like the current thrash revivalist craze. Coming up the South American side of the mix with a sound fairly similar to Sepultura is the Brazilian act Chaos Synopsis, a band that I am just now becoming familiar with.
The most interesting aspect of "Art Of Killing", this band's sophomore LP with an eye toward the exploits of serial killers, is that it draws from a number of different eras of Sepultura and comes away with something fairly unique. Essentially my biggest gripe about modern Sepultura after the departure of Max Cavalera has been that it has been steeped in lackluster groove territory and still carrying around some nu-metal baggage from the horrid abomination that was "Roots". Somehow this band has managed to bring out some of the few positive elements of the latter day Cavalera albums (there's a good bit of "Chaos A.D." coming through in the shouted, almost Pantera-like vocals), but put together a riff machine that could and probably should have been the successor to "Arise". This is an album that is largely dominated by speed and rage, occasionally going into full out blast territory, and definitely showcasing a riff assault that is both busy enough to channel the Bay Area trappings of "Beneath The Remains", yet also morose and chunky enough to almost embody the blood-drenched fury of early Cannibal Corpse.
Much like the fancy thrash albums of the later 80s to early 90s and the parallel death metal albums "Leprosy" and "Deicide", the songs found on here kind of run together, following a predictable formula that emphasizes blinding speed coupled with pummeling breakdown sections. Much of the time as heard on "Rostov Ripper" and "Red Spider", this album is titled in a punchy thrash direction, featuring busy galloping riffs and a lot of notes. But occasionally as heard on "Bay Harbor Butcher", it's in more of a tremolo oriented character befitting of the most violent works heard on "Eaten Back To Life" and at times even chaotic enough to resemble "Blessed Are The Sick". But despite having a really strong, modern production and vocally resembling the NYHC informed sound of a number of mid 90s death metal bands who were starting to emulate the groove scene, this is a textbook album. There's no quirky progressive twists, overtly technical aspects reaching beyond typical Slayer guitar solo shredding, or anything else that would have been out of the ordinary before Suffocation started pushing the envelope.
While overall this is a strong album that should be a welcome throwback to many old school death metal fans, it does find itself wandering into virtually the same territory from one song to the next, and unfortunately doesn't quite have the level of intrigue and flair to it that would put it in the same category as "Beneath The Remains" or "Scream Bloody Gore", both of which were likely a big influence on this album. This is a solid fit of violent fury chronically the exploits of a number of notable serial killers, but it stops a little bit short of being a new classic. It's almost akin to watching a slasher flick where there's a lot of screaming and goring of victims, but not a lot of buildup in suspense. It works well in occasional doses, but after a while the blood turns into water amid the continual swipes at the jugular.
Art as a term is misleading, especially in the context of this release. With conceptual references about various serial killers the Brazilian band warrants numerous grotesque characters of the human history with a short amount of 'additional' prominence. Each of the compositions comes with a short focus on one of these, while the title gives some hints on the person in question. Whether it is possible to anticipate a certain conceptual approach, with a distinct character in regard to these “spotlights”, may have to do with personal preferences that undoubtedly differ between the individuals. Nevertheless, one facet needs to be emphasized considerably: the conventionality of the way with which the band dealt with the issue at hand.
Indeed, instead of attempting to express the gruesome history of each serial killer in one way or another, reflected through the art of music and with insights into their deeds and their personality, Chaos Synopsis failed to stand true to their name. There is neither a chaos nor a synopsis that can be described as satisfying in any meaningful way. It lacks the teeth, something that would help it to break out of the level of conventionality. This modern type of death metal, this polished and well-presented piece of art, lacks the dirtiness, the incomprehensiveness of such a crimes, of the horrors perpetrated by any of these 'illustrious' characters. Projects too numerous to count spread similar concepts throughout the various interpretations of the grind genre. Odd samples from b-movies, disturbing noises, extreme counterpoints … all this can be found on legions of other releases. Leaving a certain humorous or rather absurd touch aside, the combination of those various types of sounds helps some bands to set the stage, add nuances to the illusion, come over as convincing.
Chaos Synopsis are far away from this and only two tracks – B.T.K.(Blind, Torture, Kill) & Art of Killing – are allowed to have elements that would break out of the “ordinary routine” so to speak. The rest … well … modern death/thrash metal with few surprises. It is well executed, considerably catchy, has a good amount of aggressiveness etc. etc. etc. What might come as a surprise is that the brutality of the debut album Kvlt ov Dementia (2010) has been watered down a bit. It all feels a bit calmer and more controlled. Be it the riffs or the vocals both facets appear in a more modern interpretation and can be described as an ambiguous experience. These touches of short but intense bursts can be interpreted as a reflection of the hectic of the deeds of the persons, while the methodical way in which some handled their killings would stand against this way of seeing things. Maybe also the lack of variation in the broader concept of the album is what leaves a bitter taste, some sense of dissatisfaction. It is a question of how it all can be boiled down.
Aside from this, it is a curious thing this last composition of this album. On the one side it is of an instrumental nature, but then it never feels like the vocals would be missing. In fact, the elements from the southern rock genre are quite peculiar and add the nuances, which the rest of the album actually lacks. This leaves the band in a somewhat awkward position, but the one track whose approach seems to be nothing more than a nice to have, is actually able to create more fascination than a considerable part of the rest of “The Art of Killing”. The title track is a caricature of the release itself.
As usual, texts and music do not go hand in hand. Expectations created through the track titles and maybe even in advertisement, are shattered by the inability of the band to imagine a type of music that would on the one hand stretch the boundaries of the genre as much as necessary, but would still present to the listener interesting or in this case rather disturbing ideas. They play death metal... it is curious to see/hear this reluctance on their side. Why does “Art of Killing” feel like a safe approach with no sense or immediate tendency to push the barriers? Those with a fancy for modern interpretation of death/thrash might want to give it a try. Others will find the performance too generic and shallow, with no outstanding character or facets. A solid performance … but definitely nothing more.
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 22)’:
Chaos Synopsis is a thrash-death metal band from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brazil over years have grace us with great bands like Angra, Overdose, Ratos de Porao, Sepultura and many other. So I was aware that the music quality was going to be good and some what expected and upon receiving my online copy I was very pleased to go through the whole album.
The first thing that sticks out on this album is the quality of the recording. From the get go the sound is crisp, very clear and organic.
I liked the idea of a concept album rather than a bunch of songs recorded together to make a quota. Every song is a story of a historic or infamous character. The cover art work is just as cool as any Cannibal Corpse album covers. Fans of such bands will really enjoy this very gory art work, which it's just a glimpse of what you can expect musically from this album.There is a mix of very fast thrash (similar to Dew-Scented or Destruction) with some death metal passages similar to Morbid Angel and such bands. Actually until the singing starts you would easily classify this album a thrash. The riffs are very up tempo and technical, with enough changes to keep you interested for the most part. The drumming is impeccably tight. I really liked this dudes timing and precision. The over all sound of the bass is very raw and organic, not a bad thing for death metal or thrash outfit.
How ever my only gripe with this album is in the vocal department. While not necessarily too bad, they do take away from the music as a whole and sound a bit forced and somewhat amateurish. On some songs the vocals seem to be aiming for a Max Cavalera approach and on other they lean towards a Barney Greenway growls. This doesn't mean that this isn't intentional, but it can be a bit confusing and a seem like a little unfocused, as it seems like you have two singers rather than one. Not terrible, just not great but, I'm sure that other fans will disagree with my assessment.
Overall this album is pretty solid, and shows the band establishing their identity. Not ground breaking or trend setting but…overall good music. Fans of bands like Dew Scented, Destruction or Morbid Angel and other should definitely check this band out.
Art of Killing is the band's second full-length album, and it's pretty fucking good. Essentially death-influenced thrash, rather than thrash/death, yet certain songs are noticeably the other way around ("Bay Harbor Butcher" being an example). I enjoy the thrash aspects more than the death ones, but that's just me ... The lyrical themes revolve around various serial killers, each track belonging to a specific one, aside from the closing title track, which is an instrumental. Mostly uptempo and aggressive, this is a pretty-pleasing treat ...
Vocals are very aggressive, but don't really vary all too much. They're usually what you'd expect: yelling and screaming, mixed with some growling. The vocalist belts out words of death and misery as if he were the serial killers the lyrics encompass. However, he tries a bit hard to sound "brutal" for lack of a better word (check out "Rostov Ripper" and "Bay Harbor Butcher" and you'll see). Not exactly "vocals" in the true sense, but "Red Spider" even has an annoying sample thrown in for whatever lack of a good reason. Weird effects on "Zodiac" ...
The guitars range from a bit of chugging to some melodic sections, then from shredding to solos. The solos being very melodic, evident in tracks like the second one, "Vampire of Hanover". The deathly-sounding guitarwork is very much similar to Revocation ("Son of Light" a prime display of this.) For the most part the songs alternate between chugging (generic) and nicely-done technical riffs, with the occasional solo attached for good measure.
The drums are very reminiscent of Lombardo: plenty of double bass and loud pounding. Some blast beats here and there, but relying more on thrash beats than death ones. They hardly stray from rapid tempos, as well they should. I personally feel they're the best instrument in the recording. You can hear the cymbals clearly and the bass drums don't sound overly triggered. "Demon Widwife" has some nice blast beats quite often showcased -- not overly fast either, after all this isn't pure death metal. The drummer doesn't let up, and I applaud him for that.
Bass mainly follows the rhythm section without any noteworthy deviations. Just a lot of booming, but not overbearing or annoying; not enough feeling to cause one's skeleton to vibrate. The bass is most apparent on "Monster of the Andes": you can hear it as soon as the song plays. Eh, bass isn't my thing.
My only gripes with this album are that the vocals are slightly too high in the mix while the drums aren't high enough, and that some of the songs sound too much like the others and are a bit repetitious. That, and the unnecessary synths in the title track (which don't belong). Sure, one could argue the violin and acoustic guitar are out of place as well, but they don't hurt anything. Other than that, any fan of death/thrash should enjoy this album. Give it a chance, you may like it.
Looking back period in metal’s history, there was indeed a time when the extreme styles of death and thrash metal were not too dissimilar. Mind you, one style may have had a bit more of a fascination with disfiguring and killing things, but the styles were fundamentally similar; raw, aggressive and scarcely interested in appealing to anyone’s softer side. Nowadays, thrash and death have each evolved into their own distinctively separate identities, but the common DNA makes for a willing pair. Enter Chaos Synopsis, a quartet from Brazil that combines the two styles seamlessly. Add a striking concept and the merits of modern production, and you have “Art of Killing”, an album that should have thrash and gore lovers reeling alike.
As the album title may suggest, Chaos Synopsis are fairly interested with death- specifically when it occurs at the hands of another. Mixed in with audible influences from Sepultura, Bay-area thrash and old school death metal, serial killers are the album’s greatest inspiration. With the exception of the instrumental title track, each song on the album is dedicated to a different famous serial killer. The gruesome “Vampire of Hanover” is included here, as well as the famous “Zodiac”, the prolific “Monster of the Andes” and nightmarish “Demon Midwife”. Although the lyrics don’t betray any masterful grasp of the English language, it is clear that the band has done their homework here. Serial killers from around the world are present, including one fictional entity- the “Bay Harbour Butcher” from television’s “Dexter”.
Chaos Synopsis do a very good job of melding the death and thrash styles together. Although the thrashier component is arguably more important, the speedy riffs and headbang-worthy grooves are jolted with an extra sense of aggression and artillery that you wouldn’t normally hear in the style. Above anything else, Chaos Synopsis excel at the science of the thrash riff. Although there is nothing of a “Reign in Blood” or “Holy Wars” calibre to behold, each of these serial killer stories is scored with a satisfying inventory of aggressive riffs. Less impressive are the vocals of frontman and bassist Jairo Vaz. Although his vocals are by no means poor or weak, they aren’t nearly distinctive enough to leave an impression. At best, he sounds like an echo of Chuck Schuldiner. At worst, his grizzled shout sounds like something I might hear on a metalcore album. Regardless, on the performance end of the album (vocals included), there isn’t a single poor element. Art of Killing”s bleak subject matter may have been better suited for a rawer production, but the refined recording allows for the band’s technical skill to be relished in full.
Although Chaos Synopsis take good care to make their riffs engaging and heavy, there’s often the sense that “Art of Killing” is missing something that would have made it a much more satisfying experience. This speculation is acknowledged and realized with the closing title track, an epic instrumental that throws away the common thrash conventions for something unexpected and near-cinematic in its quality. After nine songs of very samey material, Chaos Synopsis almost seem to venture into progressive metal territory. Acoustic guitars, slide guitars, and a freaking violin all get tossed into the six minutes, and the effect is brilliant. Although “Art of Killing” is a technically proficient record throughout, it seems that the band decided to wait until the last possible song to show what they are fully capable of. Although it leaves the album off on a remarkably sound note, I cannot help but feel that “Art of Killing” was a bit of a lost opportunity. Things sound great, but if there had been more of that kind of variety on the album, there’s no doubt that it would have resulted in something even better.
From the performance end, Chaos Synopsis are excellent, and although it would have been nice to hear some more varied and dynamic songwriting from them, “Art of Killing” has a vicious style befitting the concept.
Themes concerning serial killers have been seen quite rampantly in thrash/death metal. But an album conceptually built around real life serial killers is quite something. Musically, the aptly titled Art Of Killing is a vicious ride of quality extreme metal which borders along the lines of pure thrash/death metal with some elements of metalcore thrown in.
The writing and execution both are very good. The songs are straight to the point and waste no time in beating the listener’s senses. The vocals are standard death growls and not anything technically special. The guitar work is written and executed perfectly not leaving any room for error. The lead work especially is very good and tasteful. The drum and bass work both have been executed very well, though the bass isn’t very loud in the mix. The lyrics, which play an essential part in a concept album are very well written and give a clear idea about the concept presented. The songs are short and catchy enough to be appreciated at most by the second listen. The song length is utilized very well and rarely is any song felt overlong or dragging. Consistency is very high for this record and most of the songs are enjoyable and entertaining in themselves. The problems of this album surface when the song drops to mid-pace. Now there are very few bands that while writing quality mid-paced thrash/death riffs, still kick ass and Chaos Synopsis is certainly not one of them, at least not with this one record. Many of the mid-paced breaks in the songs sound too dragging and many of the transitions seem too forced. Besides that, the rest of the record is quality and entertaining thrash/death metal music.
Among the songs, highlights include the insanely catchy B.T.K. Demon Midwife and Son Of Light. All of the above mentioned songs feature high quality riffs and choruses that remain stuck in the listeners head for a couple of days at least. The title track is a high quality instrumental and ends the album on a melodic note, an antithesis to the rest of the record. Monster Of Andes, Zodiak and Red Spider fall into the enjoyable spectrum of the album but also feature some moments where some transitions or riffs are out place. The only track which can be considered a low point is Bay Harbor Butcher where the riffs being mid-paced don’t work very well and the song feels too dragged.
This album with its short, razor sharp song writing brings forth an untamed beast of a record which hits hard on the listeners head. The songs though nothing special and clichéd, are insanely entertaining and memorable. Bottom-line this album is highly recommended for fans of extreme metal, metalcore and groove metal. Fans of other sub-genres should also check this out as it might be quite a good idea to put up some bad-ass extreme metal when you are high.
Okay, so I got this album via email from the band itself (which was way cool of them. Thanks guys!) and now I'm writing a review of it.
From what I can tell, they are a straightforward death metal band with some speedy tremelo picking and palm muting. What I have found is that their songs are not very diverse and all have mostly the same style, which is short and fast. There is one thing that's bothering me a little, and it's that their tone seems to be a little too weak. It doesn't sound thick enough to me. Chaos Synopsis's tone sounds like they don't have enough gain. Other than that, this album is a well-executed blitzkrieg on the ears.
This piece starts out with "Son of Light", which I assume is a satirical song about Jesus. I find this offensive to my religion, but hey, I'm not going to be 'that guy'. "Son of Light" is a good fast-paced intro for this album. It's followed by a few other songs like "Vampire of Hanover", "Rustov Ripper", and so on. Most of the songs in the beginning and middle seem essentially the same, which isn't exactly a bad thing since all of them are fairly good tunes. The ones that really popped out to me were "Zodiac", "BTK", "Monster of the Andes", and lastly, "The Art of Killing". These four songs are the ones that really make this album worth it.
I have read the opinions of others about this album and they seem to complain that this album isn't different or new in any way, and they're right, it's not, because that is the true beauty of this album. It's not experimental, it's not a mix between metal and other genres (like that abomination called 'metalcore'), no sir, it's the good old fashioned, straightforward death metal that we all know and love. There is nothing wrong with an old idea as long as it's a good idea, yet so many people complain that it's not different or creative and that the lyrical themes are stereotypical for death metal bands (which they are), but there is nothing wrong with any of that. It's based on an old idea, but it's a good idea.
In conclusion, this a good solid album to hear. Good, fast riffs combined with brutal vocals make for some good death metal. While the tone they use is a little weak, this cd makes up for it in good songwriting. I recommend them for you guys who love the good ol' death-and-destruction style that has evolved into the many extreme genres of music we enjoy today.
It does not surprise me at all that Chaos Synopsis is Brazilian. I did not know this fact when I started listening to the album. I immediately thought that they sounded like a cross between Arise-era Sepultura and Krisiun. Both Brazilian bands. So when I looked into the band a little bit and saw that they were from Brazil, it all clicked.
The album immediately captured my attention with a very impressive opening riff. From there, they refused to let go, building into an infectious groove quickly. This turned out to be a surprisingly good album all the way through, with some genuinely unexpected moments just to keep the listener on his toes.
Chaos Synopsis blends death metal and thrash metal into a caustic mix. The drumming is done in much more of a thrash metal style. It is oftentimes incredibly fast, with a lot of double bass and some well-done fills. I do not usually pay a lot of attention to the drums. They are often lost in the music and are not typically noteworthy unless they are very good or very bad. In the case of Chaos Synopsis, they are very good.
The guitar tone is very crisp which allows the riffs to really bite. They do throw in some tremolo riffs on occasion and some riffs with a lot of picking. The band even delves a little into more of a brutal death metal sound, particularly on the beginning moments to "Bay Harbor Butcher". Much of the guitar work sounds a lot like the earlier comparison that I made to early 90's Sepultura and Krisiun. It is a highly energetic style that manages to keep the energy going throughout much of the album.
There are some surprising moments at times. The band cuts the speed down considerably and goes into a more melodic interlude, then just as quickly reverts to the high speed riffing that makes up the bulk of the album. Solos are generally done pretty well. The use of the slide guitar on "B.T.K." and the title track also stands out as a unique moment. It comes across quite well actually, giving the tracks a bit of a Southern swagger.
I was not familiar with Chaos Synopsis prior to being contacted to review the band, but I do have to say that I was surprised. While they are not recreating the wheel here, this is some decent stuff.
Usually, I'm not at all into all too brutal metal genres such as death metal and that's why I hesitated to check out the Brazilian band Chaos Synopsis. The interesting concept about the lives and works of famous serial killers all around the world and the fact that the band also mixes thrash metal elements into its sound convinced me though to give this release a spin. I happened to be pleasently surprised by this album. Despite its pitiless speed and very raw vocals, the band employs many gripping thrash or even groove metal riffs that stayed on my mind.
The opener "Son of Light" is sheer madness with its heavy and thundering riffs, its unchained vocals and its discordant but addicting guitar solo. The band takes no prisoners right from the start and they managed to immediately get me on their side as I was truly impressed by this brutal energy. I kept listening to the album and it only got better despite two or three fillers. "Rostov Ripper" includes a mid tempo groove part that comes as a welcome break from all the insane speed passages. "Bay Harbour Butcher" has a very cool and almost scratching or slightly unclean guitar sound in some passages and even a few almost doom metal orientated riffs. This song is very diversified but nevertheless energizing and the first true album highlight. The band should write more of this unpredictable high quality material in the future.
My favourite songs are though still to come. "B.T.K. (Bind, Torture, Kill)" is a song that still impresses me a lot. It opens with great thrash metal riffs and a few interesting drum fills and variations. The vocals don't vary that much but fit to the brutal topic and the pitiless music. The middle part suddenly includes a few discordant southern rock or blues chords performed by a slide guitar or something similar that remind me of ZZ Top. A few more modern riffs and sound experiments can also be found in the second half of that track before it ends with that intriguing southern rock guitar sounds once again. "Monster of the Andes" starts with a very dominating bass intro before heavy doom metal riffs kick in and give the song a very sinister atmosphere. The opening moments are very intriguing but the band shifts a little bit too quickly to its usual death and thrash metal style. These four guys definitely have some talent but should elaborate a more complex song writing from time to time.
The biggest surprise though comes at the end. The band finishes its album with the great instrumental title track that includes elements of many other songs you have heard before but mixes them into something completely new and unique. The opening moments are very calm and atmospheric and have a few dominant bass guitar parts. Soon, thrash metal parts kick off but they remain in this genre without touching the death metal spectre which I personally like a lot. Sliding guitar parts with a slight blues rock touch can also be heard again. New elements such as string passages and a short retro heavy metal guitar solo still leave me stunning. Some passages come back once in a while and serve as a thought out guiding line but the band employs many ideas and includes many changes in a running time of over six minutes. Even though this is an instrumental song and by far the longest track on the release, it's probably the most entertaining piece of music on this record. It includes multiple changes and requests some time to grow but it still has a coherent structure. The song ends as original as it started in form of a chilling acoustic guitar closure. The four musicians definitely prove their talent in this song and I hope they will do similar stuff once in a while in the future. This track alone is worth the favourable rating I gave this surprising release in the end.
Fans of death metal with a strong thrash metal influence should definitely get this record. Other metal fans might be surprised by a few blues rock elements and especially by the outstanding album closer and title track that could even please to progressive metal fans. I'm glad I gave this record a chance and discovered a true little treasure. In the last few days, this album had a few spins in my stereo and will surely get some more of it in the near future. If somebody who is very sceptical about death metal in general as me already gives this album such a great rating, what might the true death metal fans say? Well, I guess you should just try it out...
I had never heard Chaos Synopsis before listening to Art of Killing, so I can't tell you how this compares to their other works. I can tell you that this is dark, speedy, stripped down metalcore/death metal in the vein of Merauder's Master Killer or possibly reminiscent of Sodom's M-16. It owes a lot to old Slayer, too. Maybe that most of all. I feel Chaos Synopsis would not mind entering the realm of some place like where All Out War lives, but they are not really over there, at least not on this one.
The guitar tone is very clean and tight, though they really have a lot of mids in there. It's a brutal sound. The guitars are way out in front on this record, like it was mixed by a guitar player. This is a completely guitar-dominated record. The main guitar parts are mostly simple and quick, but cut all in-between with lots of picking parts. These are old school thrash riffs and drumming mixed with incredibly fast thrash or death parts, though I have to say there is also a mix of really hard metalcore in there as well that just keeps plowing its way out of the speakers. I can't say there are a lot of catchy hooks, but it is quick and it is unforgiving.
There are few breakdowns everywhere to change things up, and while this record has nods and sounds that made me want to put Master Killer on, it really doesn't have that metalcore attitude. Art of Killing is really more clinical in affect. The guitar solos are fine being a little odd in some spots with a weird tone or picking technique thrown in on one or two. Overall, they serve their purpose and either enhance the creepiness or increase the frenetic feel for a few seconds.
The bass is appropriately gnarly, though not really up front and rarely found front and center. Nothing wrong, just doing what bass needs to do.
The drumming is super speedy. This guy is as impressive with the double bass as he can be. Again, it's a stripped down feel, though, and I can't say the drums have a lot going on besides some impressive speed from time to time. I mean, he's firing on all cylinders and it's not anything short of professional, it's just with the spare approach they took to this material it can be a bit utilitarian. That's not bad, it's just what they are doing. And that's not to say the drums aren't big and well-produced, because they are.
The vocals are of the "angry guy yelling" variety a la classic Slayer. I personally love that style of vocals. This is not a classic death metal, sounds-like-a-dinosaur-got-loose-in-the-studio vocalist. However, the vocals are back in the mix a bit and are rarely front and center at all. Also, this is apparently one of the rare records in the world that I have encountered where I absolutely have no clue what the vocalist is saying. I mean almost ever. So far, after several listens-through, all I have been able to definitely make out is "bind, torture, kill" on the song of the same name. Maybe it's his accent together with the vocals being a bit behind in the mix. Maybe someone made that decision purposefully, but it causes the record's songs to lack in the memorable vocals department. There are almost no discernible "choruses" even as far as death metal might have. I mean, I can read the lyrics and they are written on the page, but they just don't stand out. Lyrical hooks that make a song stick in your head are few and far between.
Overall, when the record started up, my ears perked up and I thought this was something up my alley. And it generally is. I gave this record most of its points for being pretty old school, stripped down, and raw like good metalcore riding the death line should be. It's also got some serious speed and that is always something I like. I do not appreciate dirges or slow parts and they are not on here. The vocal style is a plus, but I think the guy is held back by a lack of memorable lines, so it's not so much of a plus as it could be, honestly.
This record is consistent. There are a lot of similar riffs all over. It's all about the staccato and there is almost nothing resembling real melody. It's a punishing ride.
Which brings me to the lyrics themselves. The record is a concept record of sorts, in that every song is a kind of documentary record of some horrendous serial killer. Accompanying the lyrics in the booklet is a little blurb about each murderous wretch - the body count, how the media applied their nickname, and that kind of thing. Personally, it is a bit much for me.
I can see from the band logo behind the CD (pentagram with 666 behind a big 'ol "CS") that they are apparently all about the evil. Perhaps truly Satanic material is in their discography, but like I said I was unfamiliar with this band before this record. I'm not sure. They are not flying that flag overtly here, but they aren't saying these serial murders are a bad thing. This album might be viewed as a tribute to them, or just a cold record of them. Not sure what they meant really, but it certainly remorselessly documents 9 horrible sons of bitches with some ugly and fast death metalcore. If that's your thing, then it's here in spades, but I can't say I am getting much out of the lyrical content. Luckily, I can't understand what is being said, so that will not be a real problem in future listens-through.
They lost points that might have put them over 80% due to the lack of variety across the record, and what I see as flaws in the mix (vocals are a bit lost, not that it has cheap production values, for it sounds big and clean and well-produced) and in the missing memorable lines that might have stuck in your head. There's no "free-fire zone with my M-16" or the like on here, and it could have used a few of those, in my opinion.
I will be brutally honest and say that I had never heard about Chaos Synopsis before being offered the chance to review their latest album, Art Of Killing. But then again such is the immensity of the metal world that this is bound to happen more often than not. There is simply too much music out there for a sane person to be able to fully apprehend all of it, so in the end we dedicate most of our time to those who stick immediately and leave a big pile of “what if” to eventually revel upon. But are these bands we leave behind that sub-par as to deserve such a treatment? And taking the actual reviewed album into consideration; is it so comfortably numb that it should go by unnoticed? As mostly everything in life there are two sides of a coin. On one hand I can’t fail to notice the overt similarity to one of my favourite Brazilian death/thrash bands, Torture Squad, from which the intense songwriting and meaty hooks seem to have been mostly taken from. But on the other hand repeated listens prove this album to be little more than another spin of the usual South American style pioneered by Sepultura, albeit with a slight Americanized sense of groove.
Ultimately it’s not a bad thing to know what to expect when you hit play, although I have to say that the use of two languages on the opener “Son Of Light” caught me a bit off guard. A chugging riff keeps rolling onwards for the introductory minute, but then you listen to that typical palm-mute and you already know where things are going. Bellowing roars and an accurate interplay between Portuguese and English lyrics, spewed in venom over an intense rhythmic section provide for a good slab of intensity. The lead section does seem to falter a bit, a recurrent flaw throughout the entire album sadly. The ride continues seamlessly with “Vampire of Hanover”, showing a more spastic side of the band by continuously alternating in speed and varying between slower grooving riffs and powerful thrashing beats. But the same could be said about the following, “Rostov Ripper”, with its incredibly similar use of the same tricks. I mean, it’s not that I don’t enjoy this style of music but the dynamics and riffing patterns are mostly the same. I will say that the occasional barking vocals are a plus and actually introduce a bit more of calamity in an otherwise by the book song.
There’s an apparent resemblance to newer Terrorizer in the way some of the drumming patterns go around, mainly when the drum kick is used and in some of the fills. That and some of the chugging palm-muted grooves bring Hordes Of Zombies to my mind for more than one occasion, and while that album wasn’t particularly interesting this apparent influence ends up blunting Chaos Synopsis’ sound way beyond their thrash roots. When I come to think of it this album is something I could’ve enjoyed much more if songs of the quality and fury of “Demon Midwife” were more present. Short, blunt and with a nice degree of variety, it rips you open and tears you from the womb to the tomb in an absolutely unrelenting anger. But yet again the lead section doesn’t really convince me. I mentioned this before and frankly it becomes almost heartbreaking to find such little proficiency in the lead department. They just feel wimpy and lacking in that needed power to take a song to the next level. Because frankly, after a neck snapping set of riffs all I really want is a neck snapping lead guitar, bursting out recklessly. There is some action to be found towards the end with “B.T.K. (Bind, Torture, Kill)”, bringing a surprising bluesy influence to an otherwise brutish song, and “Monster Of The Andes” with its frantic thrashing rhythm that brutally bashes your head around for little over three minutes. That bluesy feel is again present in the final song, “Art Of Killing”, a mid-tempo instrumental that closes the album with a slightly melodious note.
The idea of having a stance similar to Macabre where each song deals with a different serial killer is pretty cool and well achieved, as is mostly everything that goes on during the forty minutes of this album. It ends up being a rather enjoyable album, brought forth very professionally by a band that clearly knows what to do. Sadly it suffers from a constant repetition of the same ideas and riffing patterns as well as some weak leads, thus not being able to take a jump above that “good but not great" qualitative percentile. The band shows enough quality to do better than this, and with a bit more of variety and a more frenetic lead department they could certainly come out with a better effort in a not so distant future. As of now the result displayed is nothing you haven’t heard before, but I’d say give it a shot if you’re into Torture Squad or early nineties Sepultura. There’s always room for more quality South American death/thrash.
Chaos Synopsis plays a style that is very thrash in the drums and death metal in the guitars with lots of tremolo picking and thrash beats. Mostly standard fair and doesn't deviate stylistically; low yells for vocals and an old school death metal guitar tone that cranks out a succession of tremolo and death-tinted thrash riffs. There are few blast beats or anything rhythmic going on, and the whole of the album falls into the same tempo and rhythm throughout.
The lyrics of each song profile a different serial killer. To me, it's not at all interesting or creative to write lyrics like this. It is, however, a feature that defines the album over all.
Three tracks stand out to me, Rostov Ripper, BTK, and the instrumental title track. Both BTK and Art of Killing make use of slide guitar, which I think is pretty interesting.
The title track has almost a Judas Priest, old school heavy metal feel with slide guitar, violin melody, and a nice acoustic outro. I must say the slide guitar in this track is pretty badass and the acoustic passage is quite nice. It recalls Opeth. Rostov Ripper starts off very generically, but has some tasty riffs, nice complimentary drum parts, and a serial killer from Ukraine just seems right. Bind Torture Kill has solid riffs, and again, slide guitar, which is pretty cool.
Overall, the weak points of this album are the vocals, which are extremely lacking in terms of potency, variety or sharpness; rhythmic monotony and unfortunately it's just quite generic and underwhelming. If you've ever heard their fellow Brazilian thrashers Torture Squad, this is very similar and there's a lot of riffs that just don't do anything for me.
While serial killer themes have been previously enacted by extreme metal acts as diverse as Sigh, Dahmer and Church of Misery, it's great to see that Brazilians Chaos Synopsis have put so much research into the concept of their sophomore Art of Killing. It seems as if they really tried to get into both the heads and histories of each of the murderers they represent here. The footnotes included with the lyrics are helpful, and a number of disparate cultures are represented here, so this can be seen as an examination of sick fucks worldwide (USA, Poland, Japan, Brazil, Ukraine, Colombia, and so forth), which naturally contributes to a broader palette of splatter in terms of the imagery unleashed. I bring this up primarily because it's one of the more compelling components of the record, not that it lacks some inspiration musically, but the riffs and production border more along the familiar.
Branded death/thrash, Chaos Synopsis clearly favors the latter in terms of how they construct the music. The guitar progressions are very punchy and clean in tone, with a lot of mutes and simplistic chord structures that don't exactly break the bank creatively. Occasionally you'll get a evil if understated tremolo lick, as in the bridge to "Vampire of Hanover", and the vocals often accommodate a guttural bark, but the proximity to brutality is tenuous at best. Instead, you've got a spry, choppy selection of guitars redolent of other modern, polished thrash acts like their countrymen Torture Squad, Greece's Suicidal Angels or Germans Cripper. You could reach further back to the hints of Bay Area 80s Slayerisms, moshing potency of Anthrax and S.O.D., or the clinical picking tint of the European greats Destruction or Pestilence, but these aren't so prevalent that the album becomes yet another knockoff. No, they balance enough of their inspirations into a voice of their own, but I feel as if it comes with a cost: the production seems a fraction too sterile for such a savage amusement, and it often detracts from the level of abuse necessary to convey the chaos, pathos and tragedy of these killers and killings.
Granted, bassist/vocalist Jairo does a pretty slick job of capturing the anger and frustration through his blunted ravings, which sound like a street savvy, less raucous hybrid of Max Cavalera and King Fowley; but often burst into more grotesque growls or distorted, narrative samples. However, there's not a lot of inherent melody to his performance, and when the band tears off into a chorus-like sequence, the dynamics rarely differ. The drum mix is decent here, just as loud if not louder than the boxy rhythm guitar, but percussive enough that you can feel the kicks, snares and fills much like a knife being plunged between your ribs. Bass lines are about 50% following the rhythm guitar, and 50% layering in some fills to help break up the banal certainty that often comes with this genre. Leads are efficaciously sporadic, incorporating elements of hard rock and blues against a more surgical technicality; and interestingly, they're not highly drowned in effects, so you're getting a lot of the guitar's natural tone there. Flashy and noodly, but eerily appropriate.
Ultimately, since the focus here is so heavy on the riffs and vocals, the former are called to task to carry the rest of the load, and there just weren't enough that really stuck to me. Tracks like "Rostov Ripper", "Demon Midwife" and "B.T.K. (Blind, Torture, Kill)" are nothing to scoff at, capable of whipping necks into a frenzy, and fists into neighboring faces, in total 80s fashion. But Art of Killing comes up short in its lasting impact. Many of the songs just aren't as sinister as their respective serial killers, and the production is simply too clean to really convey heaviness or emotion. Chaos Synopsis can write their thrash riffs, and they have a solid sense of momentum that in of itself generates some excitement, but beyond that I didn't feel as if the music kept calling me back, like some grotesque snapshots of a murder spree crime scene which I could not look away from out of horror. Seasoned, dynamic and well-scripted, but the record lacked that extra 'oomph' to really drive up the body count.
Brazilian death/thrash metallers Chaos Synopsis deliver their third album ”Art of Killing” in 2013, a follow up to the 2009 ”Kvlt of Dementia”. Due to being unfamiliar with this band's prior work, as well as the modern Brazilian metal scene at large, this album serves as an effective introduction to me. However, despite being a competent and well-executed work, Chaos Synopsis provides relatively little on this sophomore work that would encourage me to delve further into the band's discography. Still, at its best, "Art of Killing" provides a headbangable, violent thrash experience.
”Art of Killing” recalls Sepultura to a noticeable extent, especially the thrash legends' more coherent and structured, if still vehement and fairly numb-skulled thrash assault of ”Arise”, but also in making use of some groove-oriented stylings. ”Son of Light” is a moderately fast thrash affair with simplistic, homogenous thrash riffs and hardcore-styled half-growl, half-shout vocals. There are noticeable death metal elements, although not to such an extent to make ”Art of Killing” anything like a death metal album, or really death/thrash either. Some of the chaotic nature of strongly Slayer-influenced early death metal can be heard in the riffing style, and there are also harmonical structures, though passing and unemphasised, that recall especially ”Reign in Blood”. The riffs that could be considered death metal are always the simple ones, whereas the ones with clever, subtle complexity are undoubtedly thrash ones. Songs with ”Rostov Ripper” are trickling with these headbangable thrash riffs, accompanied with driving, pummeling drum beats.
The greatest downside of ”Art of Killing” is that a considerable portion of the riffs are uninteresting, moderately fast groove riffs. Although Chaos Synopsis have written fairly good guitar leads and some most excellent thrash riffs, the vapid groove parts would at least require some of that more inspiring guitar work to counterpoint. Fortunately, the album never lapses into genuine groove metal: all the groovy riffs are at least fast-paced. Still, some of them are painfully uninspired, especially in comparison to the best material, which is genuinely great. Riffs such as the opening of ”Bay Harbor Butcher” ought to have been omitted entirely, or the breakdown-esque outro of ”Son of Light”.
At some point, the riffing begins to sound all too familiar. Songs like ”Zodiak” attempt to bring variety to the style with some slower parts that might've been intended to be atmospheric, but the songs' pacing and the album's production allows little in the way of atmosphere to shape. Indeed the clinical production and meticulously timed drumming is also another definitive downside. The drumbeats are fairly monotonous as such, and the overtly dry production certainly doesn't help. The guitar tone is also a fairly bland thrash sound without overmuch distortion, which makes especially the entirely palm-muted riffs sound powerless. The vocals are at least very aggressive, and although the Cavalera-style hardcore growl is anything but pleasant, the vocals sit excellently in the mix (in that they're not overly present nor irritatingly subdued), and the vocalist is highly capable and consistent. The rest of the instrumentation being relatively stale soundwise, the vocals are given enough room in the mix to have the required amount of bottom end for maximal menacing sound, and in parts, given an interesting effect through altering panoration.
”Art of Killing” is a definitely competently crafted album, and much of my chagrin comes from my lack of taste for modern death/thrash with groove elements. The clinical production is also an irritation, especially in the palm-mute heavy riffs played from the low end of the guitars' fretboard. Unlike Sepultura's ”Arise”, for example, ”Art of Killing” is greatly hindered by its inability to evoke atmosphere. The best thing by far is the inspiredly vicious thrash riffing, but those great riffs aren't overly frequent, and their power is hindered by stale production and inanimate drumming. Though very recommended to fans of no-frills thrash in the vein of ”Arise” with certain groovy death metal leanings, this isn't an album I would often return to.