khaosdeiThis is the second album from French black metal band Khaos Dei. I listened to the opening march and wondered if it was going to be representative, as preludes often aren’t. “A l’Enfant du Diable” (To the Child of the Devil) does in fact maintain the lingering sombre mood but it’s now much harsher and noteworthy for the vocalist’s lung power. In the background there’s a mix of war-mongering, melancholy and faint majesty. The very brief “Au Fond” (At the Bottom) develops the theme further with a symphonic piece evoking the tragedy of war, before “Le Noyau du Chaos” (The Essence of Chaos) bashes its way into our heads. The singer shouts in pain. I wasn’t so impressed with his vocals but then anything angelic, which they are most certainly not, would not be appropriate. What I do very much like is the authoritative and ominous rhythms, which leave a fearful atmosphere, before transforming into fire, doom and finally a thunderous wall of sound. It could have gone on longer but such is the way of black metal.

The pace steps up as the drummer knocks out a fair lick on “Où Vous Tomberez” (Where You Will Fall). It’s hammered out ferociously but again Khaos Dei support the mayhem with a menacing line. It’s ugly and violent stuff. After this hefty number, there’s a short mystical atmospheric piece evoking abysses and voids, then “Sous la Bannière Noire” (Under the Black Banner) returns us to the inherent chaos. Much as I liked the intervening interlude before it, I felt there was a lack of continuity here. War, turbulence and chaos are now back. “Sous la Bannière Noire” ends in marching mode, the apparently obvious prelude to “Une Armée Entière” (An Entire Army), a rapid-fire explosion of rage. I would have expected a more measured march. “Total War” would have been a more suitable title. Perhaps I shouldn’t pay too much attention to titles. The screams at the end suggest that the army has been slaughtered but imposing as it is, I am hearing individual voices and platoons, not entire armies. The ending, to the band’s credit, is majestic. Someone survived as there is the sound of boots. The significance is not clear as there’s another interlude track, this time a short symphony of devastating sadness. The melancholic majesty this time does lead into the next piece “Là où les mots ne parlent plus” (There Where Words Speak No More). The beginning is grandiose. The drums trigger and the guitar rings with a funereal tone. A Frenchman speaks. “The only way to intervene is survival”, he tells us dramatically in French. This is an uplifting track. I sat up and respected its tones of great majesty. “Allegeance” then closes the album, and through its melancholic symphony and constant drum evokes the sadness of war.

I didn’t find that this album was entirely joined up but I do recognise its creativity and imagination. “Opus II: Catechism” makes an interesting and atmospheric contribution to the black metal genre.

(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)