Chaos Frame – Paths to Exile (Nightmare Records)

Tuesday, 8th September 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

Delivering the best in ‘regressive’ metal since 2010, four-fifths of Minnesota’s Chaos Frame hail from that state- while singer Dave Brown resides in Delaware. It may make for trouble replicating material on the live front a challenge (the group often employ a fill-in for shows), but in today’s file sharing and home studio recording immediacy, distances remain relative when talent is at stake. And if you want a good chuckle, check out their Facebook description for what they will never do (rhyme ‘fire’ with desire’, break it down bro) and what they will (release material when it’s good and ready).

Paths to Exile comes four years after their debut Another Life – which may seem like an eternity to the average metal follower, but progressive metal maniacs savor the long incubation periods. Confidence to meld blast beat sections against furious epic riffs during the 7 minute plus title cut or follow up “Derceto”, vocalist Dave Brown reigns from a mountain-top in terms of power and control- think Nils K. Rue meets current Whitesnake keyboardist Michele Luppi, his delivery semi-operatic while dramatic when necessary. Sure Dream Theater and Symphony X factor into arrangement ideas, keyboard nuances, or multi-part harmonic visions, but the execution occasionally includes nods to Arch Enemy, In Flames (prior to Reroute to Remain) and the much missed power beacon of Lost Horizon.

Expect a load of axe nerdgasms to take ahold once Matt Hodsdon and Andy Xiong brandish their weapons – some fiery playing and quick passage changes elevate “Paper Sun” and “Doomed” into jaw-dropping flawlessness. The extra icing on top of an already enticing product takes place in the multi-layered harmonic support on the vocal front – the ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ element that helps land Chaos Frame permanent placement in the long-term memory bank for the fans.

Keeping all the moving parts together without excessive individual wankery, Paths to Exile delivers a balls out progressive metal album that proves a team approach can pay dividends.

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