According to the promo sheet that accompanied the digital copy of Chaos Inception’s second album, The Abrogation, the Alabama quartet is “dedicated to the destruction of the current death metal paradigm and a return to the true spirit of the ancient gods brought to light by the vision quests of its progenitors.” I cannot speak as to the disposition of the ancient gods’ spirit, but as far as Chaos Inception destroying the current death metal paradigm, well, that is just plain bullshit. The Abrogation checks off all the standard death metal boxes: Careening high velocity riffs? Check. Blast beats and double-bass like a motherfucker? Check. Shredding, sweep-filled leads? Check. While Chaos Inception puts its own stamp on the style, the band certainly makes no dramatic compositional diversions from the accepted form. What Chaos Inception is doing with The Abrogation is giving you thirty minutes of punishing death metal of the no-fucking-around variety, and in lieu of paradigm destruction, that will do nicely.
As the opening title track of The Abrogation whips up a sandstorm of intensity, it is impossible not to think of Nile, and titles such as “Pazuzu Eternal” and “Ancient Ways Prevail” point to a similar fixation on long-buried cultures and religions. Musically, however, Chaos Inception is a much more streamlined and straightforward unit. The band’s music lacks any overt Middle Eastern influence, and there are no acoustic or folk instruments, no keyboards, and no lengthy atmospheric passages. The songs on The Abrogation are, on the whole, brief (the longest track clocks in at 4:08), concise blasts of pure modern death metal.
Though The Abrogation’s songs are not over-long, they are not without their share of finesse. Guitarist Matt Barnes has an interesting lead style that involves frantic cascades of notes that seem to fluidly morph from repeated melodies into actual solos and back. Furthermore, Barnes has a knack for layering his parts that gives the compositions a real sense of depth, despite using relatively conventional structures and riffs. Barnes’s playing could be perceived as a bit too noodly, and occasionally too happy sounding, but his note flurries are well mated to Chaos Inception’s tight but furious music.
Melody is an important component, but in a death metal album like The Abrogation, riffs are the meat of the matter. In this area, Chaos Inception performs rock-solidly, but falls just short of elite-level riffage. There are, however, some standout moments: “Hammer of Infidel” features an excellent passage that alternates a choppy, mid-paced chugging with dizzying melodic runs, which then leads into a dramatic outro solo, and with “Blood of Black Vortex”, the band creates a swirling maelstrom of sound to match the song’s title.
With The Abrogation, Chaos Inception is not reinventing the wheel, but neither is it creating another old-school re-hash. The Abrogation is a contemporary death metal record with a Reign in Blood-like combination of brutality and efficiency. It won’t blow your mind, but it will crush your skull.