Taine - Chaos & Contemplation review
|Album:||Chaos & Contemplation|
|Release date:||September 2023|
01. To Infinity
02. The Anger Within
04. Return To The Sea
06. Demons From The Past
07. The Night Before That Day
08. Dark Days Of Our Lives
09. Fusion X
10. Prea Mult
Instead of contemplating Taine's lengthy absence, let's focus on their latest effort, Chaos & Contemplation: a release not as chaotic as one might expect.
Taine is a Romanian technical death metal band; what's staggering about Chaos & Contemplation is that it's only the second full-length release to the band's name since their formation thirty years ago back in 1993. It follows their debut, Cealaltă Parte, which was released back in 1999. While you could say that this band has been around for a long time, there isn't all that much to show for it, as their only other release of note is a short EP from 2023 titled Resurrection. However, this latest offering only features two original members, Andrei "Andy" Ionescu (guitar/vocals) and Adrian Tăbăcaru (drums/keyboards/samplers); Robert Pieptan (bass) and Ciprian Martin (guitars), who respectively joined back in 2005 and 2011, round out the line-up, so it's not entirely the same group this time around.
Still, there's more to the album's performance than this 4-man line-up; Chaos & Contemplation has such an impressive guest list, one which includes: solo guitarists Marius 'Neuro' Bob and Petre Iftimie; additional vocalists Maria Modoran, Mihai Ilie, Andrei Rusu (aka Vlad Dracul, formerly of Agathodaimon), Kimberly Dunn, Felix Fuerea, Martina Mollo, and Marius Popeanga; keyboards and orchestral arrangements from Vikram Shankar; as well as fretless bass from Robin Zielhorst and Lukas Florian. It's a staggering line-up for sure; it's almost like an entirely new orchestral tech death project, as opposed to the continuation of a band that released their previous album twenty-four years prior. The question is, though, what do all these seasoned musicians bring to the table on this latest offering (without going into describing what every musician's roles are from each individual track, that is)?
For starters, the album runs just shy of the 45-minute mark, and features ten tracks in total that certainly fit within the technical death metal genre mould; however, it's clear from the opening track "To Infinity" that this is going to be more than just your average modern tech death act. The guest performers shine from the off, Neuro Bob providing exceptional guitar solos (he also later features on "Seconds" and "Fusion X"), and Maria Modoran bringing her striking vocals into play (Modoran returns later on "Neuralgia" and "Return To The Sea"). There's strong technicality behind the structure of this opening track, but there's some fairly striking melodies behind the riff patterns and solos, and the rhythm section is also not excessively complex. The song is also even progressive in parts. With "To Infinity", the album is off to an interesting start, and from here it only gets all the more interesting; you'll soon find out no two songs sound the same, each having their own unique structure.
What really stands out above all for me most is the faultless production, where the mastering and mixing is quite remarkable. There's certainly no shortage of instrumental elements in place, and the layering between the technical riffing, complex d-beats, fretless-to-non-fretless bass work, keyboard/synth work, and multiple solos is impressive, to say the least; add the multiple vocal styles performed by the wide variety of vocal performers, and you have quite a dynamic structure and songwriting approach, but every element remains clear throughout.
Other than the excellent quality of the production production, there are also several highlights worth mentioning, the first being the two instrumentals, starting with "Seconds". This relatively short instrumental starts, oddly, with a female-voiced countdown, with a short male spoken word midway on the track. The song has a rather light pprogressive structure, focusing mainly on its multiple guitar leads, and groove-based rhythm patterns; it's not quite what I'd call technical death metal. The next instrumental featured is "Fusion X"; this is a short and exciting track, with yet again some excellent solo work by the guest guitar performers. "The Night Before That Day" is another example of the album's lighter side; although there are harsh death growls present, I'd say the rhythm patterns and tempo are far from ferocious, and the added cosmic-style synths add to the overall atmospheric setting. The band certainly make use of their guitar weaponry here, and each musician delivers an outstanding performance, but as well as that, we have some impressive songwriting skills, making this for me a standout track.
"Dark Days Of Our Lives" then follows, and this is clearly more on the melodeath side, with some added technicality and structural complexity along the way. The tempo varies more on this track than any other, and almost seems like a song of two halves, with clean vocals and soft sweeping guitar leads coming in after the melodeath riffing, before chugging djenty riffs take over, which is soon accompanied by another impressive solo. From djent and melodeath, to extreme progressive and technical death, this is a track which has it all.
Taine may not be a household name to many of you who are familiar with technical death metal, and understandably so given their slow output. However, this Romanian act now return with a fresh new style that goes beyond the realms of standard tech death, courtesy of and with gratitude to this impressive guest roster. Where this band goes next from here is anybody's guess, but Chaos & Contemplation is sure as hell a good starting point for any future plans.
||Written on 21.09.2023 by Feel free to share your views.|
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