REVIEW: KAOTEON – “Damnatio Memoriae”
We all have heard our fair share of horror stories about Heavy Metal bands facing the wrath of Religious, Governments and Political communities, but sample this. On December 2003, while Kaoteon was playing live in Beirut, undercover policemen with automatic rifles inside the club and took the band hostage! They were locked into the trunks of cars and interrogation lasted for days, as they were shuttled from one location to another! Along with them, the people present in the club and the managers were also made part of the ordeal because they “supported” their “leaders” who “backed Satanism”. All of this was actually a misunderstanding about the band’s name at that time. They were called Chaotaeon – a mix of the words “Chaotic” and “Aeon”. However, “Chaotaeon” can also be pronounced “Shayatin”, which translates to “Devils” in Arabic.
But all this didn’t stop the band and weaken their purpose. After changing their name to “Kaoteon”, founder Anthony Kaoteon moved to Amsterdam and put out a couple of demos before releasing their debut full length and relentlessly violent ‘Veni Vedi Vomui’ back in 2013.
Five years after their debut, they are combining forces with bass wizard Linus Klausenitzer of Obscura and drum master Fredrik Widigs of Marduk to release ‘Damnatio Memoriae’. Produced by Daniel Bergstrand known for producing records for Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir and Dark Funeral, the album will be out on February 23rd.
As soon as the opening notes of the opener and title track “Damnation Memoriae” hits your eardrums, a few points come to the forefront instantly as you compare it with their debut. Firstly, the production is much more cleaner and secondly, the song structure is distinctly melodic with bits of experimentation, especially with the old school Death Metal guitar lines. This goes on well to sum up most tracks of the album. It is not a uni-dimensional road-rage of aggression, but a well thought off collection of tracks creating a chaotic Blackened-Death Metal ambiance they are known for.
The band sounds stronger than ever despite losing some of the raw aggression of their debut as the variations in the tracks prevents monotony from creeping in during multiple listens. The band sounds really tight throughout the album. On tracks like “Into the Mouth of Kaos” and “Raging Helffire” it is hard to focus your attention on any single member or instrument. As your brain tries to focus on a specific aspect of the song, invariably it will be violently shifted to another and this constant context switch is what made me fall in love with this album. Although some might argue that in terms of the genre, it doesn’t present anything innovative or something that we haven’t heard so far, yet at the end of the day, the songwriting fully engages you and there is hardly anything left to complain.
The band mixes the songwriting a fair bit in this record. Tracks like “Non Serviam” and “A Breath” have moments tilting heavily towards the melodic end of the spectrum. While “Non Serviam” explodes like a volcano after the melodic intro, the underlying melodic riffage will make you hum along with the track even hours after you have stopped listening to the album. The band is known for their mix of groove and aggression and we see a perfect example on “Light Of Compassion” which is sure to make you raise those metal horns up right from the get go.
To summarize, Kaoteon have released a worthy successor of their debut. They have worked on the drawbacks of their previous release to deliver a much stronger and near flawless record. With one album focusing on the heavier and aggressive aspects of Extreme Metal and the second one experimenting with melodic bits, it will be exciting to see how the band take this forward.