Lebanese act Kaoteon have had a rough ride during their journey of black metal exploration having been oppressed by authorities for being devil worshippers that saw the band imprisoned at one point, the duo of Anthony Kaoteon (guitars and bass) and Walid Wolflust (vocals) now reside in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They have also enlisted the services of Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura) on bass and
Fredrik Widigs (Marduk) on drums plus the album was mixed by Daniel Bergstrand. Those credentials should be enough for any extreme metal fan to check out Kaoteon and by the time you have, this sophomore album will hook you instantly with its sheer ambition and utter potency.

Opening with the title track the vocals smash into the song like a statement of intent as the track morphs into a twisting spiralling avalanche of drums and piercing ferocity. Like many other eclectic black metal acts the vocals deliver layers of theatrics from clean vocal sneers, to frenzied screeches each adding their own character to the songs. Slowing down for ‘Barren Lands’ the doom laden riff is stricken with melancholy as a tortured vocal is heard in the background ready for the song to intensify with an abrupt blasting phase and elongated shrieking vocal enunciation. The vocals really are disturbing at times, taking on many forms as the tantamount bedlam is reined in momentarily before reappearing with tangible toxicity.

Initialising with a bass hook ‘Raging Hellfire’ is everything you’d expect as the song detonates with an ultra-quick hyper blasting assault with a drum sound on the album that is powerful and focused into the mix that it so richly deserves. I love snare roll starts to songs as ‘Venom Of Exalt’ has a militaristic approach before snatching it aside for the main riff and those terrifying and nightmarish vocal incarnations. The tranquil start to ‘Non Serviam’ is tuneful with a lingering lead break that is obliterated by the savagery of the blast that interjects. The swerving tempo shifts highlight the power and unerring confidence of the song writing as those vocals are spat out with such malice you can feel it in every syllable.

Slowing down for ‘Light Of Compassion’ the track is much heavier, possessing a death metal nuance with the bass playing in the background adding texture to the song, but like the majority of songs on this album you can feel the song escalating to crescendo, an apical focus of malevolence that materialises as a crushing double bass finale and some finely executed and positioned switches in pace. At times the speed is demented, controlled but incalculably insane as ‘Into The Mouth Of Kaos’ is possibly the most wrathful song of the album with the vocals taking on a maniacal aura with the lyrics spat out at high velocity. The contrast between this song and the album closer, ‘A Breath’, is stark as a gentle riff is embellished with cymbal taps, building the song with each passing moment by adding other musicality particularly via the drums. Here the vocals take on a tormented tone, with strangulated expression showcasing that anguished approach that leads into a wonderful lead break, emotive, passionate and enthralling it signifies an amplification in tension within the song that continues to its termination amid vocal whispering and ghoulish murmuring.

Like the Funerary Bell album I reviewed recently Kaoteon have taken the roots of black metal and diabolically transformed them into an amalgamated web of twisted vocal emanations and violent musicianship that is as disturbing as it is equally refreshing to hear as anyone into the blackened metal artistry should investigate this album as a matter of urgency.

(9/10 Martin Harris)