An old wives’ tale purports that KHAOZ stands for “heavy dynamic Death Metal with sickening double vocals." I honestly wasn’t aware of that (!), and after giving “Twist The Knife A Little Deeper” several solid listens, such a claim is still causing me to scratch my head. (I’m also curious as to why the front cover is filled with torch-waving revelers and void of anything remotely sharp.)
At the close of 2008, a venerable landslide of Dutch Metal maestros from bands like HOUWITZER, SINISTER, THE EMBODIMENT, PLEURISY, and CANDIRU (phew), merged to form what is now known as KHAOZ - a six-piece old school Death Metal band that is heavy on the head-banging and feather light on innovation.
This band’s five-song EP may be a precursor for grander things to come, as they no doubt understand the tricks and convene with the warlocks of the trade – the album was in fact tweaked by well-renowned producer Harris Johns of VOIVOD, KREATOR, IMMOLATION, and PESTILENCE fame – but the album entire is an exercise in familiarity.
The riffs are your traditional Death Metal streams soaked with slick grooves and punishing power chords; bass lines follow mean-ass rhythms, and curiously, solos are as rare as the Narwhal – a trait which may or may not repel your self-serving Metal fan. The drumming is tight, real tight, but it never borders the virtuoso, and the so-called sickening vocals, well, there lies the ultimate divider.
Vocal duties are shared by an unlikely duo – at least physically – Johan, a mammoth man who screeches like a banshee, and Olav, a scarecrow with quite the effective gothic-style grunt/groan/growl. Looking at the two, you would expect the voices to be coming from the opposite’s mouth, but this ironic mention is not so much important as is the actual sound and fleeting success their back-and-forth vocals proffer.
Olav’s growls I can live with. Johan’s hysterical shrieks, not so much. Insane? Yes. Grating? Definitely. Of course, it’s a common ‘to each, his own’ variation, but more often than not, Johan’s irksome vocals subtracted from my head-banging bliss.
However, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the album. Simplistic and heavy, this is a solid example of old school Death Metal from six guys who know what they want and how it should be cooked. My favorite tracks were “Lost In Serenity” and the opening number, “Only To The Worm” – a music video that features each member ending his life via gunshot or hanging was made for said song.
Did I mention these guys are old school Death Metal?
(It should also be noted that this album is Rusty Cage Records’ first digital release.)
(Online April 22, 2010)