AN NCS ALBUM PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): DESCENT — “ORDER OF CHAOS”
The Boss HM-2 distortion pedal, and other devices that emulate its effects, are fantastic inventions. Similes for the sound abound, including the ubiquitous references to chainsaws cutting through dense wood. It also brings to mind someone gunning a big V-8 engine (do such things exist any more?) in a vehicle with a severely corroded, smoke-belching muffler, or maybe a junkyard car compactor working at full metal-mangling intensity. The deployment of the tone just makes everything sound more massively crushing.
That brand of distortion has become inseparably linked to old school Swedish death metal in all its gruesome, dragging, and scampering glory. But its uses extend beyond music devoted to death and supernatural horror, and in the case of Australia’s Descent (which features members of Snorlax, Resin Tomb, Feculent, Siberian Hell Sounds, and more) it has become a weapon in the discharge of violent, politically charged fury. In their case it’s also not the only weapon in their arsenal, nor is death metal the only genre ingredient in their music, because black metal and grindcore play prominent roles as well.
Maybe especially for those of who may think chainsaw discordance has worn out its welcome after so many years, Descent‘s new album Order of Chaos is worth your attention. And it definitely demands attention for any fan of metallic extremity who’s looking for a cathartic release through music of pulverizing, neck-ruining power and shuddering ferocity (coupled with effective use of gloom-drenched melody).
The album is set for imminent release on January 14th by Brilliant Emperor Records in cooperation with Redefining Darkness (CD) and Caligari Records (tape), and it’s our privilege to present its full streaming premiere today.
“Tempest” kicks the album into high gear with… well… a stunning tempest of sound. Fronted by absolutely possessed vocals that maniacally howl and terrifyingly scream, Descent discharge massive HM-2-powered riffage that alternately convulses in dense boiling maelstroms and jolts like massively destructive jackhammers. The drumming is equally berserk, ejecting mad bursts of double-kick thunder and blistering snare-drum assaults, but also methodically pounding like pistons. Lethal hornet-swarm leads and shrill squealing fretwork-fevers amplify the music’s aura of derangement and savage fury.
“Tempest” is a hell of a way to start an album, one that not only delivers an immediate kick to the listener’s adrenaline levels but also functions as a “mission statement”, or maybe more accurately as a blueprint for much of what’s coming. Across the following tracks Descent continue to use the pulverizing impact of chainsawing riffs, earth-splitting bass lines, and extreme percussive turbulence to violently overwhelm the senses, while also continually locking into chugging grooves that trigger reflexive muscle movement.
The PR material for the album uses a fantastic phrase to capture the most electrifying phases of these songs: “full spectrum bedlam”. But Descent do a good job of preventing their music from becoming a potentially mind-numbing form of crazed overkill. They do this in part, as previewed in the opening track, by injecting sharp tempo changes and mutating drum patterns and by providing generous doses of spine-shaking groove (the compulsive effect of which can’t be overstated or underrated).
The music is generally brazen and blaring or manifests as a full-on paroxysm (see, e.g., “Safe”), but Descent also shake things up by infiltrating wisps and waves of eerie and exotic melody (often elucidated by riveting guitar solos) that seems to wail in misery. Perhaps the most striking example of this occurs in “Fester”, where the drums vanish altogether allowing the guitars and the bass to create a mood of abandonment and profound hopelessness — which leads into the ravaging sounds of a mechanized war-zone. Descent also do a fine job of creating passages that sound oppressive and dismal in even more apocalyptic ways.
And don’t miss the towering final track, “Despotic”, which might be the most melodically inclined of all the tracks, even though the melodies are wrenching. It also gives the bass a solo spotlight.
The lyrical themes of the songs are in keeping with the uncontainable fire, fury, and disgust that rages through the music, and with the bleakness that also surfaces. The band explain:
“Order of Chaos is a cry of frustration. A vent of exasperation at the gathering gloom and oppression seemingly validated and accepted by the masses without query. It’s a statement of strength and potency in the face of adversity. A reaction to the frailty encompassing a gullible society governed by doublespeak, and lacking the perception to cut through catastrophic ideologies deceptively presented as beneficial to all.
“The themes addressed on the record have become more pertinent with each passing day as we descend into the chasm of absurdity, momentum building and practicality fading as robotic obedience replaces autonomous pragmatism on a grand scale. The conflict never-ending as it assumes new forms, shifting infinitely into a vortex of confusion that only those with sharpened discernment and exhaustive inquiry stand a chance to endure.”
The album was engineered by Brendan Auld at Black Blood Audio, mixed by Kurt Ballou at God City Studios, and mastered by Brad Boatright Audioseige. The fantastic cover art was created by one of our favorites, Mitchell Nolte. The album is available for pre-order now in advance of the rapidly approaching January 14 release date.
Got it this morning: kick ass album!