Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

Blending a dark atmosphere with Middle-Eastern riffs and incendiary lyrics, here comes a fearless Lebanese horde armed with their brand new album of skull-crushing Black Metal.

Brought into being as a one-man project in 1998 by Anthony Kaoteon (Death Drive) in the scorching fires of Ashrafieh, one of the oldest districts of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, under the name Chaotaeon (from the merger of Chaotic and Aeon), Black/Death Metal act Kaoteon is one of those bands that keep fighting for metal and for freedom of speech no matter how hideous the consequences might be for them. For instance, in 2001 the band was forced to change their name to Kaoteon after an incident with the authorities in which they got arrested, where the police though that Chaotaeon was the translation of “devils” from Arabic, leading to false accusations that the band is satanic. In addition, on December 20, 2003 while the band was playing live, a handful of undercover police entered the club with automatic rifles, took the band hostage, locked them in the trunks of unmarked cars, and interrogated them for days, shuttling them from one location to another.

Blending a brutally dark atmosphere with riffs that range from anthemic post-rock to Middle-Eastern folklore and incendiary lyrics driven by the band’s background in their turbulent homeland, Kaoteon (now based in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands) return once again to darken our souls with their brand new opus titled Damnatio Memoriae, the ancient Latin punishment of eradicating a person or figure from all memory and mention. Featuring a somber artwork by Mexican musician and artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts) as well as bass wizard Linus Klausenitzer of Obscura and drum master Fredrik Widigs of Marduk as session musicians, joining full-time members Anthony Kaoteon on guitar and Walid Wolflust (Ordum) on vocals, Damnatio Memoriae brings nine skull-crushing, unrelenting and explosive Black Metal hymns that will undoubtedly leave you feeling ravaged and raw after all is said and done.

The title-track Damnatio Memoriae is a modern and vibrant Black Metal composition that will fulminate your senses, bringing forward sheer aggression from the very first second. Furthermore, Fredrik as we all know is a demonic beast on drums, generating the perfect demolishing vibe for Walid to declaim the song’s controversial lyrics through his enraged roars (“My heaven differs from yours. / Where is the loving light? Where is the eternal peace? / Desolate, grey, tyrannic, lonesome / Lit with my passion to burn”). If that start wasn’t demented enough for you, Kaoteon keep burning our souls with their blackened music in Barren Lands, where Anthony is absolutely on fire with his guitar accompanied by Linus and his menacing bass, sounding devastating from start to finish, whereas in Raging HellFire they managed to sound even more visceral and disturbing, with Walid barking and screaming like a rabid beast in a flammable display of brutal (and therefore fantastic) Black Metal (and don’t forget to check the song’s guitar playthrough by Anthony HERE).

In the pulverizing Venom of Exalt, be prepared to be completely crushed by the nonstrop blast beats by Fredrik, while Anthony delivers more of his always insane riffs. In addition, Walid is in his most hellish mode, growling harsher and harsher as the music evolves in this tune highly recommended for lovers of true extreme music. Taking their sonority to the extreme, Kaoteon deliver another explosion of devilish growls, intricate beats and endless hatred flowing from Anthony’s stringed ax in The Will, with the desperate screams by Walid increasing the impact of this already boisterous song. And a soulful guitar solo by Anthony ignites a feast of darkened sounds entitled Non Serviam, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal in a dense and menacing ambience. Needless to say, that powerful combination turns it into one of the top songs of the entire album.

In Light of Compassion their sounding keeps growing darker and darker, showcasing a fierce neck-breaking riff supported by the pounding drums by Fredrik, with Walid firing some deep enraged gnarls. Moreover, the last part of this chant is a thrilling Black Metal demolition with hints of old school Death Metal, piercing our minds mercilessly. The second to last tune in Damnatio Memoriae, the incredible sonic onrush of Black and Death Metal named Into the Mouth of Kaos, presents a high level of dementia bursting from Walid’s screams, with the riffs by Anthony exhaling pure Black Metal while Fredrik doesn’t stop detonating our ears with his crushing performance. And last but not least, it’s time for A Breath, a slightly different version of Kaoteon bringing forward more progressiveness than their usual destruction thanks to the intricate guitar lines by Anthony, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant, ending this sensational album of Extreme Metal in the best way possible.

While online, I suggest you go check out this interesting article about Kaoteon and their fascinating origin story via Revolver Magazine, giving you a much better idea of how hard it is to be a metal fan in the Middle-East. As a matter of fact, Kaoteon said in a group statement that “Lebanese metalheads are some of the friendliest and most amazing people to hang out with. It is sad to see great potential in this world gone to waste because someone somewhere decided to label people at birth and imprison them into their borders. The scene itself is thirsty for metal, so international bands should expect amazing interaction from the crowd. The Dutch scene – where we exist now – shows strong support for local talent, unlike the Lebanese scene. The Dutch scene loves their bands above all, while we feel that the Lebanese metal scene favors the international bands.” Hence, why not showing your support to true Lebanese metal by liking Kaoteon’s official Facebook page, subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, purchasing the awesome Damnatio Memoriae from their BandCamp page, from CD Baby, from iTunes or from Amazon? Bands like Kaoteon are the reason why we all know from the bottom of our hearts that heavy music will never die, proving the passion for metal and for freedom of speech can beat any type of adversity, even if that means you’re putting your life at risk.

Best moments of the album: Damnatio Memoriae, Raging HellFire, Non Serviam and Into the Mouth of Kaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Damnatio Memoriae 4:33
2. Barren Lands 5:26
3. Raging HellFire 4:26
4. Venom of Exalt 4:35
5. The Will 5:41
6. Non Serviam 4:46
7. Light of Compassion 4:29
8. Into the Mouth of Kaos 4:18
9. A Breath 4:57

Band members
Walid WolfLust – vocals
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars

Guest musicians
Linus Klausenitzer – bass (session)
Fredrik Widigs – drums (session)

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Album Review – Cult of Erinyes / Tiberivs (2017)

Inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, here comes a ruthless Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde with their brand new and utterly fantastic concept album.

One of the most talented and prominent bands of the Extreme Metal independent scene in Europe, Belgian Ritualistic Black Metal horde Cult of Erinyes, is back with their unsparing music in the form of a concept album titled Tiberivs, inspired by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who ruled one of the greatest empires of mankind from 14 AD to 37 AD. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to the dark world of this Brussels-based band or if you’re already a fan of works such as A Place to Call My Unknown, Blessed Extinction and their latest EP Transcendence, the music found in Tiberivs will leave scathing scars on your skin and poison your blood, leaving you eager for more of the band’s mordant creations.

As commented by the band’s mastermind Corvus, “I always perceived Cult of Erinyes as a portal that allows my mind to connect with different universes. I had, from the very beginning of the creative process, to immerse myself in a definite time period – the Ancient Roman Empire, Tiberius era. Each song, melody, and riff had to refer to a variation of emotions forgotten by time itself. What sounded like a fantastic challenge ended as a nightmare where my subconscious got lost. Desperation, frustration, and madness raised dangerously. This third album is our most progressive effort so far, but also contains radical and intense parts sublimed by Mastema’s urges for ferocity. We both went as far as we could on this album and were lucky to be helped in our task by longtime devoted musicians Algol (bass, additional guitars), Baron (lead guitars, artwork), and Déhà, who handled the drums, some guitars/keys, and the the mix/mastering process. Last but not least, Alex (Kall, Hypothermia, Craft) offered us a five-star bass-line on the intro and Marc DeBacker, my brother in Wolvennest, added some crystal-clear guitar sounds on the end of the album. This album also marked the end of my longtime musical and spiritual journey with Mastema. I can only but respect his decision and salute the energy he shared on Tiberivs. This concept album was his idea, and I’m glad we end our collaboration on this high and digressive note. He will be replaced for future live and recording duties by the most extreme and mentally extreme singer I know, Déhà, who is known for his work with Yhdarl, Maladie, We All Die (Laughing), and shitloads of other good projects. For all those reasons, I will hate and cherish this album. For Centuries To Come.”

In the opening track, titled Archaea, 41 B.C., fires burn amidst some eerie voices and moans, being slowly joined by the band’s atmospheric instrumental and topped off with a narration about how Romans were raised by wolves and that wolves are born to hunt and kill, resulting in a beyond ominous intro to the devastating Nero (Divine Providence), offering the listener the band’s old school Black Metal with their traditional ritualistic twist in the form of a sensational tempest of slashing guitars and blast beats. Moreover, not only Mastema sounds more devilish and brutal than ever, but the song’s frantic sounds are effectively blended with its ambient passages, turning it into a full-bodied blackened experience that’s definitely worth a listen. And in Casvs Belli, which means “an act or situation provoking or justifying war”, we’re treated to an explosion of extreme music with the demonic riffs by Corvus together with Algol and Baron generating a truly belligerent atmosphere, all enhanced by the infernal growls by Mastema and the obscure keys by Corvus.

Bred for War connects instantly and perfectly with the previous song to the point they can even be considered one major composition split in two, with sheer bestiality flowing from the awesome drumming by Déhà. In other words, this is straightforward Black Metal perfect for Corvus and his horde to tell the story proposed in the album; followed by Loner, a song that kicks off like a raging bull, smashing everything through the blast beats by Déhà and the fast and cutting guitars by Corvus, with Algol strengthening the song’s melody with his bass lines. The final result couldn’t sound more amazing, a furious and occult creation by Cult of Erinyes with an excellent job done by Mastema giving life to the song’s dark lyrics. Germanicvs, with its almost 8 minutes of blackened sounds and a demonic aura, keeps up with the foundations of Black Metal, being one of the most obscure and dense of all songs of the album led by the sustained drums by Déhà and spiced up by dark vociferations by Mastema.

An eerie, dark intro ignites another menacing creation by this talented Belgian horde, titled First of Men, a hybrid of Atmospheric and Ritualistic Black Metal with hints of Blackened Doom. Moreover, although it doesn’t show the same fury that emanates from the rest of the album, it’s still essential for the storyline. In Damnatio Memoriae (or “damnation of memory” in English), the music grows in intensity and darkness until after one minute it becomes a feast of Blackened Doom sounds enfolding the demented gnarls by Mastema, remaining rhythmic and dynamic thanks to the excellent job done by Déhà on drums until its thrilling Stygian ending; whereas For Centuries to Come is an 11-minute aria where Corvus showcases all his abilities as a multi-instrumentalist, while Mastema elevates his evil growls and screams to a whole new infernal level. This is by far the most complete and detailed of all songs, with its second half being a work-of-art of extreme music, not to mention its atmospheric elements beautifully complementing the piercing guitar riffs and solos, flowing into a fantastic and climatic conclusion to the album.

In a nutshell, the implacable Cult of Erinyes sounds stronger and more menacing than ever in Tiberivs (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) and, despite being their ultimate album with the demonic Mastema on vocals, I’m sure the band will still provide us a lot of amazing material like this in the future. Furthermore, this brilliant concept album can be purchased at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Caverna Abismal Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and at the Aural Music Webstore, as well as on iTunes, Amazon and Discogs. The roots to the greatest empire in the history of mankind are deeply connected to the lives of wolves, and there’s nothing better than the austere extreme music by Cult of Erinyes to show you how harsh, ruthless and vicious wolves can be.

Best moments of the album: Nero (Divine Providence), Loner and For Centuries to Come.

Worst moments of the album: First of Men.

Released in 2017 Caverna Abismal Records

Track listing
1. Archaea, 41 B.C. 2:40
2. Nero (Divine Providence) 7:42
3. Casvs Belli 6:24
4. Bred for War 3:52
5. Loner 4:27
6. Germanicvs 7:40
7. First of Men 5:49
8. Damnatio Memoriae 6:04
9. For Centuries to Come 10:59

Band members
Mastema – vocals
Corvus – lead and rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards
Algol – bass, rhythm guitar
Baron – lead guitar
Déhà – drums, additional guitar & keyboards

Guest musicians
Alex – bass on “Archaea, 41 B.C.”
Marc DeBacker – additional guitar on “For Centuries to Come”