CHAOTIAN – Effigies in Obsolescence (2022)REVIEW

Sapping cut deep enough to call down the cosmos’ hail. — When Danish death metal trio Chaotian put out a pair of well-received demos (‘Where Gods Excarnate‘, 2018 and ‘Festering Carcinolith‘, 2019) roughly three and four years ago respectively they’d actually sounded like demos, or, how a demo tape traditionally would in the classic death metal sense. Garage (or basement) roughed riff ideas somewhere around seventy percent formed, rhythm section refined but not fully up to pace, style not necessarily pinned down, and the overall sound kept raw as an ‘Dawn of Possession‘ influenced rehearsal tape from the mid-90’s or so. It’d been brutal stuff for the most part, unafraid of longer stretches into mid-paced realms but focused on filthier-than-thou bursts of speed and the occasional technical flare-up. It was a sound that’d naturally spoken to the consistent quality of “Killtown” death metal out of their general sphere (Phrenelith, Undergang, Hyperdontia et al.) these last several years.

The obvious comparisons on my part around that time were somewhere nearby early/pre-Drawn and Quartered material or Infester (esp. if we consider their logo nowadays) and the mean-ass, ugly and ‘real’ sound of those tapes, which caught way more ears when they were compiled (‘Festering Excarnation‘, 2020) that next year. The Copenhagen based crew found their true point of conceptual origin within the apex of ‘Festering Carcinolith‘, and this’d been further evidenced by the late 2021 single (‘Adipocere Feast‘) featuring two songs from this album. In this sense if you’re already a fan of the band and you’ve heard that single, you know what to expect from ‘Effigies in Obsolescence‘ but not quite the full gig just yet.

The major challenge of creating this debut full-length seems to have been finding their own path (or, voice) within this well-trodden realm of filthy, basement level death metal while still keeping the production values at a proper standard. The answer seems to have been taking additional nods from Finnish death metal and ‘Here in After‘-era Immolation stretched and mangled for the sake of developing Chaotian‘s normative-with-a-twist grooves, which range from simple moshable Florida death metal scuzz n’ sway and Dead Congregation‘s cumulative brutality to somewhat technical machine-gunned cleverness; Think of Golem‘s ‘Dreamweaver‘ if the drummer was extra high on ‘Nespithe‘, some NYDM (see: Side B) and the guitarists liked a bit of the dumb, chunky hardcorish stuff coming out of the states these days and you’ll have a decent enough grasp of what it is to sit and stew within ‘Effigies of Obsolescence‘. However you generalize the listening experience it all manages to twist up dynamism enough that many bases are covered while Chaotian extend and unravel their manifesto of horror, putridity, and Eldritch otherworld envisioned.

With its many moving parts sometimes appearing grafted-on from known bodies of precedence and well-worn territories ‘Effigies in Obsolescence‘ manages to brutalize the over-active senses of the well-tuned death metal listener away from overthinking their approach, their wavelength is righteously set to kill and, much like compatriots Deiquisitor, this “right stuff” and right attack with plenty of riffs quickly defines the Chaotian experience as one deeply rooted in heavily atmospheric and brutal classicist death metal traditions, dipping into nigh (but not fully) progressive rhythmic territory just enough for the sake of having at least a few guitar tricks, varied pacing and well, more than just plain references to justify a solid ~40 minute death metal record within.

Green blood boiling upon their circuitry. — You’ll hear this right away while stepping into the fire-throated sputum of opener “Gangrene Dream” with a blasting barrage, a clobbering of the bass guitar, and all things fully roaring beyond the first minute ’til we get a bit of ‘Unholy Cult‘ and use of dissonantly set notes ringing in repetition as they impress out the gates with a true call to the abyss. Dive-bombing leads, pinch harmonics, brutal death scourging abounding — All elements which are entirely normal within the death metal wheelhouse post-‘Domination‘ yet wielded in such a way that Chaotian appear adept, confident shapers of obscure worlds right from the get-go. As we roll over to reveal the gnarled face and maggoty writhe of “Into Megatopheth” it should’ve hit you by now that the bass tone on this thing -growls- something fiercely ugly yet well articulated, allowing for progressions to reveal their movement rather than provide the usual buzzing mud. This early pocket of riff intensive songs on Side A deliver exactly what you’d have expected in a thoughtful, practiced leap of insight beyond the band’s first two demos but, not exactly in the sort of stumbling shoot-from-the-hip sort of twentysomething death metal buzz I’d frankly expected. The big compliment to give here while jetting through the somewhat similar rub of the title track is that ‘Effigies of Obsolescence‘ is a serious first longplayer from a band whom never sound like they’re just messing around with “fun shit” at the expense of the crowd, and instead putting out a pro-level first full-length that always feels like it is making a dead serious case to get on your already sagging, crowded death metal shelves.

As much as I enjoyed that first trio of pieces that fire things up they’ve more-or-less resolved as the fealty building exercise, the opening salvo set to impress the pure death metal die-hard folks who can’t resist the buckle down and kill ethos of a band like this, but I’m most often in it for the stray ideas and the darkest brilliancies of a band like Chaotian (though “Into the Megatopheth” makes its own case) and this arrives for my taste just beyond the wheeling and slime-dealing push of “Adipocere Feast”. “Etched Shadows” is where this Grønborg fellowe on the bass shines as the geist in their machine, riding various grooves in staggered stance and yet falling back into line for the doomed and braying slower section of the song. This builds momentum for resolving the violent kinetic charge of their demo tapes with thoughtful, almost virtuosic bent applied which still reads as foul and grit-caked death metal but strongly emphasizing the uncontrollable swings of their violence in an incredible way. The peak of this comes with my favorite piece “Fustuarium” and well, for most of the same reasons as you’ll find on “Etched Shadows” only pressing their attack in even more ways which also leads into the similarly reimagined “Festering Carcinolith”, an appropriate enough closer. Side B is a huge preference on my part, not for a lacking of anything Chaotian present up front but simply because I’d loved this brutal bass guitar-heavy side of the band, it just feels that much more alive with surreal, dreadful energy.

Give me a bit more range in terms of pacing, a bit more of the leads the opener kicks up, and otherwise I really wouldn’t change a thing here in terms of the listening experience. In fact I’ve stalled my thoughts on this one for a few extra days for the sake of seeing a ton of potential, wanting to give a “they’re just getting started” verdict and being torn on that thought, appreciating just how high of a standard Chaotian have arrived with on this, their debut full-length. ‘Effigies of Obsolescence‘ doesn’t feel like one of those “Almost there…” releases to me, these guys are way more keen than they should be in terms of getting it -this- right and… right out of the gates too. At the end of the day they’ve earned that spot on my shelf with this one by simply chopping away at death metal by their own personal (high) standard and you can feel the work they’ve put into every minute of this damned thing, all of it smokes. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (83/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Effigies of Obsolescence
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records,
Me Saco Un Ojo Records
RELEASE DATE:June 24th, 2022

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