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Dystopia - Chaos Philosophorum

Chaos Philosophorum
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 26 July 2017, 7:12 AM

DYSTOPIA comes to us from The Netherlands. Formed in 2005 in North Holland, it wasn’t until 2012 that saw the band release their debut full-length. The quintet originally released music in the Trash Metal style, but their new album “Chaos Philosophorum” is a Black Metal release, complete with trumpet and trombone. In fact, they call it “Psychedelic Doom Infused.” The newest wave of Black Metal is really very expansive, and a genre that seems to hold no boundaries. This is surely one of the reasons why I have become such a fan of it over the past couple years. But trumpet and trombone? This is going to be interesting for sure. Let’s dive in!

The three-minute “Intro” sets the stage. Low, rattling trombone notes are at first drawn out over the thud of a kick drum, and ever-increasing guitar notes. Just over half way, the harsh vocals come in. Unlike traditional Black Metal shrieks, they are lower and clearer, but just as harsh and angry. “Through the Vortex” is a ten minute journey. There are definitely Doom elements here, and a subdued production, but there is a lot more going on as well. The main guitar riff is dissonant, while the lead notes sparkle overtop, creating that push-pull of contrast that just makes for good music. Following the vocals, you heard a more traditional Black Metal sound, with fast picked riffs in a one-two pattern of minor chords that sound more familiar. Trippy elements abound as well. It’s quite unlike anything I have heard in the genre before, but is not totally off the wall. There is some forward thinking compositional skills here for sure.

“Black Death” is the second ten-minute opus. It starts as a lumbering song full of doom, despair and anguish. Onsia’s vocals fill the air like the screams of a dying man, lamenting a life unfulfilled. After the two minute mark, it picks up in pace for a few minutes before settling into a groove, and then back to that hastened pace. The final two-minute instrumental ending is very majestic. “Archon” is nearly thirteen minutes in length. It means “ruler” in Greece; a high ranking leader, or, in Gnosticism, “any of several servants of the Demiurge, the creator god that stood between the human race and a transcendent God that could only be reached through knowledge.” It oozes the black filth of doom, in a hulky and weighted song the echoes the slow and deliberate footsteps of a wooly mammoth. The descending chord progressions just gut you like a rock in your stomach. Brief trumpet notes stretch over the void at around the eight minute mark, seemingly announcing an event. Together with trombone it sure is a unique way of expression.

“Interlude” is a five minute pause of sorts before the monstrosity of the fifteen minute closer. It’s a relatively brief five minute instrumental that uses ambient techniques to go along with guitar, bass, and brass. “Bound to Annihilate” has some quick trippy elements leading into the main riff and vocals of a more traditional Black Metal sound. But again, bossy and angry riffs lift it out of that box and slam it down with plenty of gloom. There are several ambient passages that build up some suspense, a bit of light through the smoky haze of the thick sound of the track. The final three minutes are downright scary. After the bass guitar hits a reverberating note lower than the frequency of a black hole, the track is carried to completion with a pulsating noise that seems to come from another dimension.

Overall, this was a fresh and unique take on the genre that is loosely defined for me as Black Metal. Don’t expect too much of the classical type of sound from yesteryear, and that is a good thing because we have all heard too many bands in that style by now. Expect instead an amalgam of several styles mashed together in a way that keeps you engaged in the album. Their doom hand is strong, and this permeates throughout the songs and just weight heavily on you, like trying to carry a burden too large for your narrow shoulders. This is surely one of the better Black Metal albums that I have heard this year, and I recommend you pick this up.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Though the Vortex
3. Black Death
4. Archon
5. Interlude
6. Bound to Annihilate
Dennis Onsia - Guitar and Vocals
Cees de Wit - Drums
Rick Jongman - Guitar and Backing Vocals
Bob van Deutekom - Bass and Backing Vocals
Thomas Cochrane - Guitar, Trumpet, Trombone and Backing Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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