Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 13th February 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

Raging, furious, and scathing are bound to be one’s first impressions of Kaoteon’s sophomore effort. Originally from Beirut, the now Amsterdam-based blackened death crew (they faced persecution and jail in their home country after all) inject a primal fury into their music that manages to stand out in a genre known for its venom. Adding in some guest musicians to fill out the bass and drum positions (Linus Klausenitzer and Fredrik Widigs, respectively) only further sweetens the pot.

Blackened death metal tends to be frantic and ‘all guns blazing’ type material, and Kaoteon is obviously no exception. Blast beats and accelerated riffing are the dominant forces at play for the band, with some tremolo melodies (“Barren Lands”) offering some breaks in the material to ensure it’s not just a swirling ball of unrecognizable chaos. The aptly named “Raging Hellfire” is as good an example as any, with Widigs punchy blasts setting the stage for some slightly melodic yet thoroughly carnage-fueled riffs and caustic vocals. But the melodies do shine through still in these moments, and the wisely utilized tempo changes are often all that’s needed to give a quick reprieve from the onslaught. It’s also in these moments that Klausenitzer’s basswork is given some space to really stand out – something that’s a rarity in these sort of solely aggressive efforts. But it goes hand in hand with the rather crisp production, which also bucks the more primitive and war-like trend that similar acts pursue. Let it be known that no abrasion is lost in this process, and makes for an album that can stand on it’s feet for more repeated listens. Lastly, the vocals are suitably crazed – a wealth of shrieks, growls, and howls – a far cry from the normal one-dimensional attack that seems to be the norm.

Despite the bombarding and frenetic attack, it’s the little things that allow Damnatio Memoriae to stand out. Excellent bass and vocal performances, alongside a strong production make for a blistering effort that manages to stay enjoyable even after the initial barbaric charge fades out.

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