Chaos Frame – Entropy Review

A relatively young and American progressive metal band, Chaos Frame is something of a treasure. While they have yet to knock a record out of the park, there has always been that reserve of potential, waiting patiently in the wing for the green light. The band’s third album, Entropy, is that green light.

No song represents that leap quite like the album’s third song, “Skyscraper.” It absolutely exhausts the entirety of its seven minutes, announcing itself with an addictive and hypnotic riff before new drummer Andrew Julkowski and long-time vocalist and centerpiece Dave Brown kick things into high gear. If the band has been great about any one thing in particular in its twelve years, it has been that rare ability to maintain a heightened intensity. But Entropy finds a smarter Chaos Frame playing more acutely with dynamics. When Brown first sings, the riffs become background noise, the vocals supported more by comparatively sparse but tasteful bass lines than anything that might overshadow what is arguably the band’s strongest asset. Yet a short minute later the band has very gradually developed just enough musical accompaniment to hit an apex with the chorus.

A hair over forty-three minutes, Entropy sounds like a more confident Chaos Frame. Whereas Paths to Exile and especially Another Life sounded like a band with a ton of brilliant ideas but not necessarily the tools to express them in the most cogent way, Entropy sounds more carefully edited. Perhaps ironically, the longer songs like the aforementioned “Skyscraper” and “Always Looking Down” reflect this pared down approach best. Chaos Frame simply sounds more comfortable in its quieter moments, and that comfort level makes transitions like the one about four minutes into “Always Looking Down” feel so seamless that by the time guitarist Andy Xiong launches himself headfirst into a solo it all registers as differing but necessary components of the same song.

Despite Chaos Frame’s prior affiliation to Lance King’s Nightmare Records, Entropy sounds very little like something King or Anubis Gate would produce. Though Anubis Gate, and especially King in his solo work, would sometimes stake claim to a rare moment of reprieve, Chaos Frame is all systems go, despite staying very much in a progressive metal as opposed to hybrid prog/power metal lane. That intensity is largely what distinguishes the band from its more strictly progressive peers. It is not those artists cannot be a reference point, but rather that Chaos Frame is a deliberately heavier project.

Perhaps what makes Entropy particularly fun to listen to is that as dense as it can be it sounds more inviting than challenging. That Entropy is as layered as it is without demanding too much from the listener speaks more to Chaos Frame’s skill and approach than to an intent to simplify sound. Although the band’s best work may still lie in the future, it is hard to imagine a more diverse and joyful journey than the one here.

Posted by Chris C

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