CHAOS INVOCATION – Devil, Stone & Man (2022)REVIEW

An enduring and powerful malice left to fester in mind ’til violence becomes socially redeemable in survival of the “them” over us delusion, evil is a fictive paranoia felt by the irresponsibly pious — A construct from a dead, long inverted religion’s derangement of equal yet opposing forces in nature and a nightmare of sophist discourse throughout the still-twinkling stream of failure that tails ‘western civilization’ as we devolve into our own sociologic sewage. Splattered and howling in theatric embodiment of the lucid, orgiastic horror of possession and madness, the prime argument for living, breathing ‘pure evil’ among men yet has its mouthpiece (and zombified limb dragging ruckus) in Nisterau, Germany-based Satanic black metal quintet Chaos Invocation‘s fourth full-length, a rotten voice which charms before it shackles and waits for the defeated’s cry of suffering before it feeds upon the psyche. A traumatic indoctrination to level the spirit, ‘Devil, Stone & Man‘ pulses with the rabid heart-beating of rarified primeval black metal beast’s enlightenment, a sweetest stinking cloak of poisonous melodic nature veiling tormented rituals in glorious romanticized bluster, all the while touting acts of mayhem meant to champion and free the worthy. They are doing Satan’s work here and for my own taste the entirety of it is convincing as all Hell.

Escalating the thickness of scars upon scars since 2004 the trajectory of Chaos Invocation has been steadily elite, thrashing out a debut (‘In Bloodline with the Snake‘, 2009) several years after it’d been finished and then presenting an incredible leap in sophisticated melodicism as their second full-length (‘Black Mirror Hours‘, 2013) was allowed similar time to ruminate. This must count for something, either in admiration for their growing perfectionism or some amount of adamantine patience, but the major point to make in observation of this group is that they’ve made each record count and a wheel through their previous three records suggests they’ve only lit the temple when the incantations were worthy enough. This’d been especially true for the indomitable ‘Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond‘ (2018), an album that’d taken seeming forever to fully settle into mind when I’d reviewed it. The density of their work and the building melodic spasm of their songcraft thickened to a new level at the time and the larger purpose of the album took further listening to appreciate and divulge. The process of de-shelling this fourth album was not as time intensive as before, though. In fact I’d initially figured this was probably due to the addition of L. (Ahnenkult, Narvik) to the line-up but I believe most of this album was finished by the mid-point of 2020, and instead simply represents a burst of mind-scouring insight beyond the previous release, in line with the last three but here I’d suggest they’ve found the right pulpit-worthy performance values.

The ability to vacillate between various density of ideas while presenting a string of themed melodic dissent ensures Chaos Invocation manage an nigh bestial level of impact throughout most of this record, making it necessary to draw some curious lines of resemblance as the intensity of Chaos Invocation‘s vocals, leads, and attack bear the brutal ease shared by similarly ambitious groups Ultra Silvam and Watain, but also the post-orthodox ruination of One Tail, One Head without necessarily sounding like either side of the morph. There are outright hooks here, heavy rock mood swings and plenty of inspiring leads but we never lose sight of their red-eyed envision, a serpentine laser set upon black metal of ill intent wherein a necessary omen of bewildered malice persists. The uneasy, arching melodic gloom of the strokes that sustain the majority of “Diabolical Hammer” finds us right in the thick of the action, introduced by vocalist M.‘s somewhat Cishar-esque wretching. One of several simple-yet-effective touches serving broader gestures to the brutal psychosis of the event, this song is relatively simple yet it provides a prime example of the small but important ways that Chaos Invocation characterize their sound as a bloodied and distempered skull making sophisticated strokes of black metal. Delivered to fan the flame of Satanism into the mind by knife-fought seduction, the charring eruption of the last third of the song grants us crystalline glints of the open-woven lilting melodic hand I’d found notable on ‘Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond‘, which continues to be the ore to mine from this work as well.

The longer the phrases a melodic attuned beast begins to write the less their voice imprints as a general rule yet the more these guitarists elaborate their lead/rhythm sync with chaotic speed the more ‘Devil, Stone & Man‘ enriches conviction into extended modular threading, their songcraft managing the ranting wordiness of occult-spiritual lucidity but not speaking in tongues for the sake of landing their own ‘heavy metal’ punching weight throughout. This is not a feat buried in the depths of Side B but rather up front with the immense and inspiring “A Stranger’s Pale Hand”, a daimonian torment enveloped in its own sort of bat-winged reveal, cracking at each joint to ensure the major verse riffs seed the mind with their guiding hook before the ~3:51 minute mark sprawls in grand fashion to grind the full phrase home. Even the most bestial, napalm chucking pieces on the album have a bit of Chaos Invocation‘s own swinging touch upon them, a taste for reeling and cutting rhythm guitar movements that occasionally strike into almost black n’ rolling centerpiece in the midst of the otherwise raw and razing “Where We Have Taken The Cross”. Again this song expands and contracts, modulating detail naturally in service of a greater arc which feels purposeful beyond its most obvious phrasing.

Where is the nuke that’d lit me up into such a ‘furiated passion, then? It’ll have to be “Triple Fire”, an even more distinctly Chaos Invocation piece with its clean vocal fanfare and sky-darkening melodicism which reprises the kinetic accost of “A Stranger’s Pale Hand” but features a more elaborately spiraling run which guides us through the slow-motion toppling of empires. The second half of an album needs this sort of brightly lit, abyss drilling event to keep the wrath of even the heaviest band convincing and I’d felt like this was such a strong upswing that I’d been essentially ‘sold’ on this record as it first hit. “The Revolting Abyss” more or less picks this statement up at increased tempo, elaborating upon it in a way that links most all of Side B before an extended instrumental plays us out. “Sacrifice”, delivered with some spoken incantations and acoustic guitars, would typically act as both endpoint and beginning when I’d spent extended periods of time listening to ‘Devil, Stone & Man‘, granting the only real respite on record beyond the slower clangor of “Diabolical Hammer”, the spacing it provides is obvious but perhaps intentionally set to deepen the impact of the fray reawakening with “Strike of the Dominator’s Fist”.

Devil, Stone & Man‘ is not an album of too-subtle suggestion or meek statement and this is likely the main reason it resonated so well with me at points of reflection. Chaos Invocation once again present their value beyond the weight and coloration provided to their frantically attacking guitar-driven sound by slashing open simple melodic themes, easing into expert reveal and revelry with the goal of intentionally channeling human-to-human; These are whirring movements that aren’t cathartic so much as they are energizing, blazing with the sort of hateful passion key to black metal having any point of view at all, at least for my own taste. In some sense this communion is necessarily familiar in realm yet developmentally additive in terms of these German fellowes’ having a notable signature and in this sense anyone on boarded by either of their previous two albums won’t face any sort of disenfranchisement in view of a honed, best-stated ‘self’. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Devil, Stone & Man
LABEL(S):W.T.C. Productions
RELEASE DATE:March 24th, 2022

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