Any band that manages to forge a career in heavy music while living in the Middle East deserves our applause and endless respect. KAOTEON have already cursed a significant stir, primarily in Europe, with their 2018 album "Damnatio Memoriae", and not just because credible extreme metal bands from Lebanon are still, to put it mildly, something of a novelty. The real reason that KAOTEON stood out from a great number of other bands conjuring top-notch heaviness in troubled parts of the world is that the band's songs oozed assurance and an intuitive understanding of what makes extreme metal so potent. A large part of that potency comes from momentum, and "Kaoteon" confirms that Anthony Kaoteon (from whose one-man project this band blossomed) is not wasting any of the forward drive that resulted from his last album's unexpected international impact. Shrewdly recruiting Adrian Erlandsson (AT THE GATES/THE HAUNTED) to play the drums on this swiftly assembled follow-up, KAOTEON sound even more like a band with a global perspective and the ambition to reach a huge audience.
Admittedly, "Kaoteon" is not remotely commercial in the traditional sense of the word. This is a scabrous, heavyweight extremity, powered by death metal and graced with spectral shades of the so-called "Oriental metal" of MELECHESH and early ORPHANED LAND, via the raging pomp of ROTTING CHRIST and the dark versatility of MOONSPELL. But even with those influences looming large, KAOTEON's identity is crystal clear.
First track "Wolves of Chaos" is the most brutal and ugly thing here: four minutes of heads-down attack, it's as filthy as it is furious, and vocalist Walid Wolflust's swivel-eyed screams add an authentic sense of chaos. It makes just as much sense within the context of this band's evolution as "Gardens of Midas", a six-minute sprawl of spiky, gothic disquiet and epic, stomping fury. The closing "Catharsis in Union" is even more startling. With its doomy gait and morbid undertow, it's the closest KAOTEON come to a traditional heavy metal vibe, but they still twist its trajectory to conjure something grimly distinctive, a mournful melodic nod to PARADISE LOST aside.
Ongoing proof that defiance and creative courage are essential to metal's undying spirit, KAOTEON are drawing attention to the increasingly fertile Middle East metal world with more venom and vivacity than most. Once again: this rules! Tell your friends.