CHAOSEUM – First Step To Hell

CHAOSEUM – First Step To Hell

The Swiss metalcore outfit formed last year when four members of symphonic/power/gothic metal band Elferya, Serbian-born vocalist Lola "Van Loo" Milovanovic, guitarists Loic Duruz and Valery Veings and drummer Greg Turini, desired to change direction to a metalcore territory in the vein of Killswitch Engage and Trivium while incorporating some influences from their past musical experience into a brand new entity. "First Step To Hell", produced by Izakar (ex-Dagoba), is the fruit of their labor. In what way is Chaoseum different than other metalcore acts?

While Chaoseum’s basic structures are evidently metalcore-ish, they incorporate many unusual and, admittedly, original elements into that framework, additionally changing pace within and without the tracks for mostly succesful result. In the opening "Lillith" Van Loo sings like a doom metal witch during the bridge but the melodic chorus is Massachussets metalcore. Lola is a competent vocalist who occasionally sounds like she’s working hard not smart, but I was pleasantly surprised by her skillful scatting a’la Ella Fitzgerald in "Crawling In The Dirt" as well as her 60’s big band rock’n’roll impression in "Rock, Rock", while recalling the great Anneke Van Giersbergen in The Gathering "If Then Else" beginning of "Don’t Waste Your Time" and Alice In Chains-y "Blue Scorpion".

Whereas the material on "First Step To Hell" is fairly even, four tracks distinguished themselves in my ears. The favorite happens to be an instrumental closer "Between Two Lives" which starts out like Depeche Mode on power chords and progresses into a Daylight Dies-like dirge, both always big plusses in my book, while effectively and bombastically ending with a ticking clock. Another standout is also an instrumental similarly themed, sort of interlude between albums halves. Chaoseum sure waxes nu metal in the vein of Korn or Slipknot and Stabbing Westward-y alternative on the title track but it’s so well done, murky and genuinely heavy while genuinely melodic that it stands out from the pack, as well as Biohazard-ian "Kill Or Be Killed" that recalls their album by the same name, but chorus-wise and solo-wise is folkish Amorphis at their most monumental and grandiose.

As most debuts, "First Step To Hell" suffers from a number of deficiencies. While Izakar’s production is bassy and powerful it buries in the mix a lot of melodic nuances, especially during piano-forte transitions. Too, while Chaoseum has definitely knack for good melodic choruses as well as experimentation, two tracks seem to go nowhere: Trivium-ish Evanescence-flavore melodeclamated "FTS" and the aforementioned "Rock, Rock", overall, undercooked and aimless not unlike Trivium’s "The Rising". While those tracks do not merit detracting any points since they are subject to individual perception, substandard production does, whether or not the band could do anything about it. Hence, even though the music deserves a strong 4.5/6 I substructed half a point.

With "First Step To Hell" debutantes Chaoseum show real potential, but at some point, they will have to decide which elements they want to make a permanent characteristic of their own sound, as I expect the sequel to be different and their own style somewhat honed in whereby they may distinguish themselves even more from the metalcore pack. And one more thing, Chaoseum: talk to Michael Orlando (Dead Girls Academy) about the possibility of producing your next album. To butcher Men’s Warehouse founder’s George Zimmer’s business motto, you’re going to like the way you sound.