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crushing - 75%

vrag_moj, September 14th, 2004

For those living outside of Australia the name Lord Kaos may mean less than nil, but here they were big news for some time…Their one album was apparently the biggest-selling release on the Warhead label. At a time when the genre was booming and those cracks between the more successful bigger acts and the teeming underground have not fully formed Lord Kaos was Sydney’s bright hope for international recognition as a place where good extreme metal is to be experienced. They existed for years, performing live diligently, their trials and tribulations a subject of much talk. The few years they could not find a suitable drummer and replaced them with an expensive drum machine and the departure of their main guitarist Astennu for Norway, to follow his dreams of success playing the music he loved. All of this is quickly becoming history as the band’s unglorified demise somewhere in 2001 ended any hopes for a follow-up. As a result the recorded legacy Lord Kaos left behind is a little brief. The demo was never released and is difficult to find and this album is long-out of print, as Warhead Records, too met with a bad end.

This was recorded during that time that the band was sorely missing a drummer. If drum machines annoy you then this will definitely be unbearable. They are well-programmed and made to sound as diverse and fluid as possible, but nobody’s fooled that this is done using a computer. Aside from that the album is impressive – 11 longish, epic songs, still carrying the mark the Death Metal origins of these musicians left on them. As a result the album sounds crushing, nothing like the treble-fests of European counterparts or the murky tape hiss of a lot of the other underground. The recording is shamelessly clear with swirling digital keyboard sounds marking out the esoteric melodies underpinned by rolling, double-kick drums. I don’t think I have heard anything close to this in sound, so if nothing else it is at least unique. The singing in Lord Kaos has always been a strong point, even on the demo, with Jamie (Lord of Night’s Summoning as he is known to the liner notes) screeching out long poems to darkness and demise. A weird quirk in his style is that the narrative of the poem is often broken up by changes in the music, suggesting the lyrics were written without the completed piece in mind…The double-guitars are dense and Astennu performs some mind-bending leads over the standard Black Metal chord progressions. Another mark of a lot of Australian bands is the clearly audible bass sound on here performed without distortion but overdriven slightly to sound dirty and brutal.

In the end the album could have been better…some songs tend to flow into one another, without visible change, but there are plenty of hooks and twists in the road to keep one’s attention. I think that the band tried to put too much into this recording, but that of course was their decision and is what makes it sound all so different. Not sure if this is ever destined for classic status. Like with many local bands, to fully appreciate them, one must see them live, where Lord Kaos certainly excelled. With most of the concerned musicians still active in extreme music, a small hope exists that the unfinished second album will be brought to fruition.