SKULL569

KAOS, Kaos Among Us (2003, Oblivion Entertainment)

The skull:
Fashioning a chaos symbol out of swords was an inspired idea, and of course cramming them through a skull was the right thing to do. I like the bonus spiky flails as well; they have no business being there, and that’s what makes them work. But I could have done without the generic background of brown and fire. The whole thing looks like an ad for a Games Workshop product, and though that was pretty cool when Bolt Thrower did it in 1989, whatever metal cred being able to field a 3000 point Chaos Space Marine army might have once established, now you just look like some video game dweeb when you lay on the grimdark too thick.

The music:
When I first started spinning this, I thought it was pretty good modern rethrash, if a bit heavy on the crossover elements. I mean, it’s not awesome, and it’s not original by any stretch, but it’s got the fire and energy of a band who at least believe they’re doing more than recreating the sound of a scene they were too young to have experienced firsthand. But then I looked up the release date and saw that this came out long, long before the current trend for mosh exhumation, and it all started to make sense. In fact, Kaos started turning out demos in 1988, making them an honest-to-god first wave thrash band, even if it took them until the year 2000 to release a proper album. Imagine if Sadus started drifting toward hardcore after Swallowed In Black, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Kaos sounded like circa 2003. Not too shabby! Unlike 99.999% of today’s young thrashers, Kaos obviously have more inspiring source material in their record collections than Exodus, Slayer, and Ride the Lightning. The vocals are like a blown-out holler, none too pleasing, and no one is going to accuse Kaos of breaking new ground on their riffing, but this album was clearly made by lifers who knew what they were doing. As I get older and more jaded, I more on more rely on these gut-level inferences about a band’s intentions, which I know is not rational, but whatever. Kaos aren’t awesome, but better them than Toxik Holocaust.
— Friar Johnsen

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