Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae

What’s in a name? Well, when you’re a Black/Death Metal band from the highly religious country of Lebanon, whose original name of Chaotaeon could inadvertently be pronounced as “Shayatin” (which translates to “Devils”), then quite a lot, actually.

While playing a show in the Lebanese capital of Beirut in December 2003, undercover police armed with automatic rifles took the band hostage and interrogated them for days. Wisely, the band eventually decided to change the spelling of their name to Kaoteon to avoid any further unwanted misunderstandings, and have thankfully remained free of any accidental pronunciation transgressions since then.

Following on from their full debut – the independently released Veni Vidi Vomui (which translates quite marvellously to “I Came, I Saw, I Vomited”), the two-piece core of vocalist Walid Wolflust and guitarist/bassist Anthony Kaoteon have enlisted the help of Obscura bassist Linus Klausenitzer and drummer Fredrik Widigs of Marduk for new album Damnatio Memoriae (Independent).

 

Beginning at an almost leisurely pace, opener ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ might take those prepared for a more extreme sound a little by surprise, but this is just the sound of a band building towards something bigger. Keeping with the more melodic tone, ‘Barren Lands’ opens atmospherically but soon detonates into life with blast-beats, inhuman shrieks, roars, and wails, and some superbly distinctive bass playing from Klausenitzer during the slower, more rhythmic parts.

THIS IS JUDGEMENT!” roars Wolflust at the beginning of ‘Raging HellFire’, and quite frankly, you’d better believe him. ‘Venom of Exalt’ does exactly what it says on the tin, and ‘The Will’ is ruthless, punishing you with unforgiving fury. ‘Non Serviam’ opens with a warm, bluesy solo played over a deceptively gentle acoustic intro before grabbing you by the throat, pulling out your tongue and slapping you around the face with it. ‘Light of Compassion’ isn’t compassionate at all, ‘Into The Mouth of Kaos’ brims with menace and rage, and closer ‘A Breath’ revels in its almost majestic brutality.

Although not as raw as their début, Kaoteon’s latest release is a stronger, far more articulate and multi-dimensional record than its predecessor, not only due to the extra musicians hired for the recording, but also because of the addition of highly respected Daniel Bergstrand (Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir) as the album’s producer.

7.5/10

GARY ALCOCK