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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.