Chaos over Cosmos – A Dream If Ever There Was One
Chaos Over Cosmos is a project that I’ve been following for a few years now and although I’ve gotten to learn most of the tropes and patterns that make it unique, every new release still manages to throw me off and have me both confused and mesmerized for a while. I’m not sure exactly what it is but even though I kinda know what to expect, there’s always some shock factor or some curveball that gets me surprised. And with the latest album, “A Dream, If Ever There Was One“, this holds true once more. A few listens into it though, I think I figured out what the main intention with this one was. It’s the most extreme Chaos Over Cosmos album ever released.
Chaos Over Cosmos started out with an album that felt more or less like a blend of progressive and power metal to me, but as the years went by, the sound’s been getting increasingly more computerized and electronic while the technical prowess of guitarist and composer Rafal Bowman has been constantly evolving. It is now clear for me that what we’re seeing here is a smooth and gradual transition to tech-death. And I’m all for it!
Hearing the first single, ‘Fire Eater’ left me dead on the floor gasping for air for a few minutes. The sheer absurdity in playing speed on guitar and (programmed) drums is the first thing that hits you and it doesn’t take long before you realize that human brain cells don’t fire fast enough for you to be able to process and keep up with this madness… I have to ask myself what species from what parallel universe this guy actually is, because if one thing’s certain about this album, it’s that nothing about it is Earthly.
Chaos over Cosmos – Fire Eater
So, let’s start with the guitar performance. To put it in simple terms, he shreds with shreddy shreddaliciousness until your brains are torn to shreds. There isn’t a single song that’s not loaded with absurdly technical lead guitar swirls. He doesn’t need solos because he’ll just add a mad shred pattern on top of half the riffs or more. So, you hear extremely fast lead guitars constantly. Despite that… he added solos. And they’re composed of, you guessed it, SHREDDING. While the drums deliver inhumanly fast blast beats and double bass patterns, easily played by a computer as they are all sampled, what leaves me rather breathless is the fact that the guitars are actually played by a human. Because they match the same pace.
On the rhythm guitar side, we hear a mix of dynamic tech-death riffage, djenty sliced patterns and progressive intricacies, all happening faster that your mind can process. Because why not? However, he does make the music enjoyable. Some of the riff choices and swirly sweep melodies have a strange element of hook that makes you actually enjoy the gradual deterioration of your brain when exposed to dangerous amounts of sensory overload. So, he managed to create a sort of balanced chaos that works.
But don’t you dare relax. Once a good juicy riff or catchy groove hits and you start getting into it, it’ll only linger for a few bars before it starts tripping into odd time patterns, gets drowned in shredding or simply cuts into a completely different idea. There’s an alert, constantly shifting pace that keeps you on edge for the whole running time and by the end you feel like you ran a marathon.
Now when looking at an album with such a high emphasis on technicality and speed, it’s easy to get one-sided, and I would say if there’s one thing this record clearly suffers from, it’s a bit too much shredding. Eventually it becomes background noise and I can just go fold my laundry or do the dishes while the maniac keeps running up and down that fretboard. But he found a way to diversify the album and keep it interesting. While the first couple of songs (‘Fire Eater’, ‘Navigating by Moonlight’) run at an intense speed all the way through, we start seeing a switch into more progressive writing on the second half of the album. ‘A Mantra of Oppression’ shows some time signatures that slightly reminded me of Symphony X and the 10-minute long ‘Ebb and Flow[ers]’ alternates technicality with more melodic and epic themes, building towards a majestic and triumphant ending. This song is also where keys and synthesizers start playing a more important role, constantly running in the background to set a majestic cosmic and futuristic atmosphere. Throughout the rest of the album, they’re quite scarce and only show up for brief moments.
Oh yeah… one more somewhat important detail I’ve been overlooking. There are vocals. Really good ones too. KC Lyon delivers a very dry, harsh scream, conveniently lacking humanity as the music requires. And he can be really fast in pronunciation as well, to match the absurdity of the instrumentals. But I think it’s his gritty, epic high belting that impressed me the most, bringing a slight power metal edge into the mix.
I have no idea where Chaos over Cosmos will go from here, but a few years into it, I’m seriously enjoying the journey and I find it fair to say that Rafal manages to stay relevant and keep things interesting. So, if you too are a fan of absurdity, fake unhuman drums, robo-vibes, insane shredding and shredded brains, then I kindly advise you to look into whether or not there ever was a dream.
- Continuum (03:07)
- Fire-eater (07:28)
- Navigating By Moonlight (07:16)
- A Mantra of Oppression (08:37)
- Ebb and Flow[ers] (10:49)
- Melatonin (02:35)