Chaosweaver do look great; kinda like a bunch of malevolent faery Carny folk dreamt up by Neil Gaiman after he’s been ripped off at a fair. It’s the kind of flair you rarely see and looking at the images I hope it points to a musical imagination too. Unfortunately they also proclaim that they play ‘cinematic extreme metal’ which mostly makes me shudder for some reason. The PR guff then wades in making mention of using ‘electronic soundscapes’ which raises hopes once more. Hmmm.
Marginally concerned and rather intrigued and hopeful all at the same time I hit the play switch.
Ooookaaay… Tidal waters and piano prelude greet the audience, wrapped in some gothic, romantic keyboard sounds before a breathless, deep male voice ushers us barely woken into a strange musical landscape. “What is this world?” he wonders as the Enya-esque choir washes over us and then just before the Cradle Of Filth string-and-thrash of ‘Wings Of Chaos’ batters us there is a squawk that sounds like a very small goblin being throttled. Thankfully that WTF moment is lost under the deluge of symphonic black metal that follows.
That first song is pretty representative of Chaosweaver as a whole; very nicely produced symphonic black metal sounds with rough snarled vocals clear enough to pick out key phrases and the occasional twist and turn of some less classical keyboard sounds. It is clear, confident stuff well arranged and clearly carefully thought out but lacking something of the epic to truly bring the cinematic to their sound on this one. ‘Maelstrom Of Black Light’ is a little more rhythmic which reminds me of The Kovenant when they went all Spaceman on us, just with those ever present classical string arrangements keeping the spectre of CoF’s signature sound creeping around the edges.
By the time ‘ The Great Cosmic Serpent’ bites me I have given up on anything cinematic if I’m honest. Despite the production I feel closed in and passive rather than being swept along and involved by some narrative or exploring some other worldly vista. So instead I try and take it song by song.
‘Infected’ starts nice and creepily and eventually dives into the black/death battering with the keyboards buried away providing a subtle melodic backdrop. It is fine as far as it goes but once more failing to find anything to engross me leaves just a fairly average song stretching itself out over an unwarranted nine minutes. And I’m still kinda searching for these ‘electronic soundscapes’. ‘A Requiem For A Lost Universe’ is a slower and mostly more considered number with some great vocal work but even it’s cosmic feel dragged back to gothic sitting room melodrama by some inappropriate strings. ‘Crystal Blue’ could almost be from a different album. The squawk and squonk of it’s pseudo industrial stomp certainly jerks me awake for a moment but it’s four minutes somehow seem much longer. I do persevere however; ‘Repulsion’ and ‘ Ragnarok Sunset’ closing out the collection with no more depth than anything that has gone before, sadly, save for some clean female vocals which briefly bring to mind Monumentum’s classic Ad Nauseum sounds.
I am a sucker for visually imaginative bands and I so wanted to like Chaosweaver, but once past those highly impressive promo photos and the quirky cover what I found was a mostly uninspired symphonic black metal band. ‘Cinematic’ is mostly approached by piano runs with the occasional intrusion of string flourishes, and the soundscape aspect sadly lacking almost entirely. Multiple spins have simply heightened my sense of the lack of breadth or depth when a band like The Vision Bleak seem to manage it so casually.
Whilst I will say that rabid fans of symphonic goth/black metal should at least give these guys a spin as they may find what I didn’t, and add that the excellent quite expressive vocals are a sign that Chaosweaver may have more to offer in the future, but at the moment their ability to conjure up the cinematic experience has stumbled. Very sorry, but I’ll pass.