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A Brutal, Punishing Documentary - 78%

rwolfe, February 15th, 2013

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.