It's 2018, so I've been following Kalevi and Ilmar's Metal endeavours for fifteen years now, since 'Vana Vigala Loits' came out. And I must admit that, no matter how much I always liked their song writing, I would have never expected the path of progression they took since Bloody Sign was put to rest and Chaos Echoes arose from its ashes. Actually, the 'Chaos Echoes' LP was already quite a surprise, but it was only the very beginning of a journey in the plains of creativity and experimentation that doesn't seem to find an end. And on this year the French chaos mongers have come back with their second full-length (still recorded as quartet although Fabien seems to have left them after that), again on Nuclear War Now! Productions, and right after a 12"EP entitled 'The Unfathomable' released by the same label.
Just like it happened with 'Transient', the first thing that caught my attention from 'Mouvement', already when seeing some pictures of it online, before buying the record, and obviously in much better detail when I received the physical version, was the visual part. Chaos Echoes have always spent very special attention to the whole packaging; and this case is not an exception. The chosen color this time is red, on a golden background, and Stéfan has done a hell of a job capturing the very essence of the title in one single image for the cover. You can think of blood, lava or flames, but whichever is the option, you can truly feel it emerging from the cardboard and flowing towards you. The backcover is also very eye-catching, keeping golden tones as main reference for a circular design that makes me think of gear wheels or some kind of cosmic representation. In addition, and as it's becoming usual in Chaos Echoes releases, an obi includes all the release details. So only by taking the vinyl in your hands you get a hell of a start, and it's obviously not the end of it.
Switching to the musical side now, if I should very quickly point out a difference (or THE difference) between 'Mouvement' and 'Transient', that would definitely be the fact that Chaos Echoes new record is a lot more straight to the point than its predecessor, while maintaining quite closely the same approach to their new sound. I more or less expected this when I found out this new recording was a lot shorter (clocking in almost thirty-three minutes, so half the length of their previous output, filling one LP instead of two). But it still caught me with some surprise, as they start with a big punch in the face called "Embodied By Perfidious Curls In The Innervated Flux", with really fast and aggressive riffs and blasting drums in a Black Metal manner, and then morph it into an hypnotic set of repetitive loops where the bass takes all the prominence of a session of pure trance. This balance between aggressive and progressive parts makes the equilibrium between the flows that dominate the recording, and both extremes take advantage of either twistedness or simplicity when it's necessary; of dissonance and devouring low-ends, depending of the required; but they never let the tide decrease, in opposition to the more slow paced dynamics of their previous record, which sometimes required of a complete stoppage of progression and intensity in order to redirect them. And by that, just like the cover, they give the album title a real form with their music.
Chaos Echoes keep their very own essence, which still has a very good dose of Death and Black Metal both in shape and soul, and which does not use adjectives like "progressive" or "avantgarde" only as a selling point nor as to show-off. You can find elements that remind of Post-something, you can definitely hear that they enjoy Free-Jazz and complex forms of songwriting that require of a virtuoso technique to develop sounds, but their best attribute is without a doubt the capability they have to transform all of that into music that catches you with groove and embraces you with its inmense ambience. I would also point that 'Mouvement', despite showing how comfortable the band is in the (almost) instrumental territory they chose for Chaos Echoes since 'Transient', which only uses vocals as a exceptional instrument to be used in small doses, giving them a whole different perspective on the genre and a point of diferentiation, I can very easily find good spots for a more common type of vocal lines. Be it in the more riff oriented parts or on some intrincate tremolo progressions. And this is also a good proof of their music not becoming too much devoid of soul or "musician oriented", because you can find the way to sing on it.
It's also interesting to find some close similitudes to other bands in 'Mouvement', like could be Aluk Todolo in the beginning of "As An Embraceable Magma Leading The Subliminal", the slowest Gorguts and Deathspell Omega on "Shine On, Obsidian! Ego! Ego! Echo Back To The Yearning Of The Self", Aosoth in the fastest parts of the first track of the record or the absolutely mesmerizing "Through Kaleidoscopic Haze Of Unexpected Extents", or Inverloch, Year of No Light and the latest Yob in some of the slowest and doomiest parts of the record, like "Surrounded And Amazed By These Unplumbed Abysses Of The Inverted Sea" and "Alas! Here Is The Feebles' Assent, Exalted By Your Mouth Full Of Flies", last track of the record and with some Eastern sounding references. I obviously do not attribute this to a lack of ideas or to these French maniacs copying ideas from those bands, but more to the fact that all of these bands show their apreciation for non-strictly Metallic influences which sometimes emerge in strangely similar ways despite the bigger differences that separate them. The fact that Cyrile Gachet (Bagarre Générale, and in charge of many of Year of No Light's recordings) took again care of the recording and mixing of 'Mouvement', and that Alan Douches mastered it this time, definitely has some impact in their sound being a bit more open and wrapping in comparison to the heaviness of 'Transient'.
Definitely one of the most interesting views on experimentation within the fields of extreme Metal, and probably one of the most unique bands not only in NWN! roster (obviously, next to Stargazer) but also in current underground scene. Lots of respect.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.