Most readers will be unfamiliar with Chaos Doctrine, but the band’s aiming to change that with their self-titled debut album. The South African five-piece seeks to combine the tones and riffs of classic death and thrash metal with the punishing rhythms of industrial on this release. It’s a premise that should be ripe for sonic awesome, but unfortunately Chaos Doctrine doesn’t deliver, and the result is an album that’s blander than it really should be.
We start with the appropriately-titled Intro, which hits all of the industrial clichés with the static, maniacal laughter, broken-machinery sounds, and creepy childlike whimpers. It’s workable but not terribly original, and at nearly three minutes, it’s at least one minute too long. The intro segues into Dia De Los Muertos, which is where we get our first proper taste of what the band has to offer. The music is heavy and hits hard, and vocalist Dr D is serviceable, a bit of a poor man’s David Draiman. Guitarists Ray Pendlebury and Alec Surridge deserve credit for the solos, though. They bring a needed thrashy edge to this track, keeping the listener interested and wanting more from them.
Next up is FTG, short for Fire the Guns. It’s a solid track, though it suffers a bit from the drum mix. The drums are both cheap and loud, which works for the kick, but some of snare and cymbal-heavy passages suffer from the cheap tone.
Chaos Doctrine attempt to ratchet up the heavy factor on the next track, My Demise. The first part of the track is a thundering slow-burn, until inexplicably they bring back the sample and decide that what a five-minute industrial track needs is another five minutes with completely different rhythms but the same samples. Looking at the same theme two different ways on an industrial album is hardly impossible (those of you who’ve been listening to industrial and electronic for a while might recall The End Parts 1 and 2 from Shiv-R’s ‘Hold My Hand’), but making this one track creates more of an odd whiplash effect than anything else.
There’s a larger problem with this album that rears it’s head on this track, too. Sampling vocals is a bit of well-worn tradition in industrial, and when well done, it provides a track with additional layers of atmosphere and meaning. Poorly done, however, it’s a source of anything from eye rolling to unintentional hilarity, and sadly Chaos Doctrine stumbles into the latter camp, with a series of generic sampled lines about the devil, nightmares, horror, etc. The band chooses to punctuate My Demise with the phrase “Welcome to the worst nightmare of Earth… reality”. It’s ineffective in the first half of this song, and the effect in the second half is, frankly, not the effect they were going for.
Helix, the following track, is an electronic interlude that’s barely over a minute long and serves only to transition into the following track, Incubator. Helix is short, but it’s got a sense of momentum and urgency, which makes it work very well. Incubator, in turn, feeds from that urgency to be one of the stronger tracks on the album.
On the whole, this album’s ending is much stronger than its’ start. Cell grabs the listener’s attention immediately, and the influence of black metal titans such as Behemoth is clear. Final track The Genocide Number is the best track the band has on the album. The samples are better-chosen and used than on other tracks, and the hook of “Genocide!” is simple but catchy.
Overall, Chaos Doctrine has some good tracks and good ideas, but their execution on most of this record is still pretty half-baked. The industrial elements on this album are clichéd, and not executed with enough awareness of this to make up for it. As a thrash/death album, Chaos Doctrine is underwhelming. Overall, while the singles are worth checking out, the album is unlikely to earn a lasting spot on your playlist. Chaos Doctrine was released on July 27, so if you’d like to check it out for yourself, you can pick it up from http://chaosdoctrine.net/music/.