One question that people ask is, how do musicians continually make their music interesting and new? There are different ways to incorporate new styles or to progress music theory knowledge to increase the technical ability of the band, but the most important thing about a record is the feeling or aesthetic that it gives off. If too much is thrown into the mix, there’s not going to be room for people to really immerse themselves into the music. This is why many artists tend to rely on the singles that they put out; the album isn’t always going to be where they might want it to be, for example they may have some different themes for different songs that work independently but may not work when put together in a record. Sometimes it does work though; sometimes, songs on an album are written before or after a band recognizes their vision and where they want to go so some songs are redesigned to fit the new theme that they’re interested in. Generally, the atmosphere and aesthetic that an album gives off is what draws people in. Whether it’s dark and gloomy or upbeat and spiritual, there’s always going to be an overarching theme musically and lyrically. With Chaos Over Cosmos’ newest release, “The Ultimate Multiverse,” I feel as though they’ve really pinpointed what they want to sound like instrumentally, with gnashing guitars and absurdly fast double bass, but I feel like vocally they’re still trying to find where they want to fit into the music.
Technical music isn’t easy to decide a vocal style for. Different tech-death bands have different areas that they go to that the different styles work; for example, Beneath the Massacre’s vocalist would not sound the same singing in Inferni. The singer, Joshua Ratcliff, definitely has good vocals, whether he’s singing to the Heavens or screaming to the Hell below, but often I find myself questioning the amount of vocals that sound like nearly whispers; it could be a plethora of things, whether it’s my hearing, production (which is phenomenal, might I add), or any other reason. However, there are many moments where Ratcliff is undisputedly whispering. I think, with many things, there is a time and place for whispers; listening to the intro of the song “One Hundred,” the beginning is somber enough that the whispers there are warranted and definitely welcomed into the mix. I do believe, however, that there is still some self-identifying for Ratcliff to discover with what he wants to fit into the music. There are often parts where I find myself more enamored with the instrumentals than the vocals, and I want to find that equal balance where I can’t decide which one I want to focus on, so I desire to listen to it more than once. In the song, “Consumed,” there is a clean-singing yell that seems as though it’s detrimental to Ratcliff’s vocal cords. While I understand that vocalist must know about vocal health and all that jazz, sometimes it truly doesn’t fit to have a yell like that, whether done properly or improperly. This is not to sat that Ratcliff is a bad vocalist, I think there are many parts in different songs where his style does compliment the music, but I find myself relistening to the EP for the same parts that I enjoyed on the first listen rather than for entire songs.
One of my biggest pet peeves in music is when a band adds unnecessary instruments into the mix; if you can make the instrument fit, that’s great, but often bands will throw in some form of orchestration or synthesizers into the mix that just doesn’t fit; the intro and outro to “One Hundred” definitely has this issue. I don’t think the song needed the extra 3-4 minutes of synths and whispers to make the song a total of 8 minutes. I find myself trucking through these songs attempting to see how the pieces fit within each other but find myself questioning if there’s really a necessity for it. When I began questioning though, “We Will Not Fall” came on and the synthesizer intro complimented the rest of the song, and I was thoroughly impressed. The instrumentals continued to demolish my ears and the vocals were surprisingly tight, Rafal Bowman did all the drum programming and other instrumentation and it’s definitely impressive that he did all those aspects by himself. There’s a lot of sick soloing and crushing riffs that can satisfy the listener. However, when it comes to song length, I do believe that some of the solos are thrown in not to push the song forward but to make the song even longer. “We Will Not Fall” was an incredible song when there was a pause at around the four minute mark, but then the song continued on. This isn’t bad, as I do enjoy a good long song, but when every song on the album is so long due to the amount of solos or intros/outros, it becomes a task to listen to the record more than once. The songs have to continue to be interesting rather than being written just to satisfy a length. The story of the song isn’t always continued on by the length; “We Will Not Fall” is, in my opinion, the only song where the length truly compliments the story and the entirety of the song, however it could still afford to be shorter and split up into two songs. Toward the end, as well, you can tell that the drums are programmed due to the sheer speed of the blast beats that are kind of just thrown into the mix; it didn’t warrant blast beats that fast and all of the punchiness in the drums was muddled with oversaturated bass smashing.
“Asimov” is exactly what I was hoping for: an instrumental. Finally. We get to listen to each instrument work through themselves and have some clarity and a vision. This song gives off extreme “Shadow of the Colossus” (the band) vibes, however the unnecessary instrumentation trickles back in with a piano (not a synth this time), yet it does uphold the atmosphere so it passes the test in my opinion. The guitars are all over the place in such a methodical and beautiful way, it truly makes this album work checking out. Just the sheer technical ability thrown on display by Rafal Bowman is definitely going to land him on some peoples’ maps to have him be a guest feature for a solo on a song or to potentially even record for other bands. What’s interesting about Chaos Over Cosmos is that they’re a three-piece like Slice the Cake, all from different countries and places that have never met before; Nekkomix Studio is in charge of the mixing and mastering and I give them incredible props as they mixed and mastered this extremely well.
Overall, I know that I didn’t say all that was great about the album, but there are a lot of faults that, for many listeners, can overshadow all that’s good about the record. There are some incredible riffs and great solos along with certain songs having a nice atmosphere; “Cascading Darkness” has a wonderful intro that really sets the stage for what the album is going to hold and really sticks with the theme instrumentally. I think there are a good amount of songs that people are going to find impressive or even parts of songs, and I believe that, for a sophomore album, it’s definitely not as bad as some other bands’ sophomore albums. I think Chaos Over Cosmos have potential to grow into something great, but this album didn’t give me the lasting impression that I was hoping for. I do believe I’ll go back to it to listen to some of the tasty riffs and solos one day.
FFO: Shadow of the Colossus, Symbolik