mandag 12. august 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Chaos Over Cosmos - The Unknown Voyage


CHAOS OVER COSMOS (Poland)
"The Unknown Voyage"
(Independent)
Release date: September 7th 2018 (reissued April 20th 2019)
Genre: Power metal, progressive metal, space metal
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Music knows no boundaries, neither when it comes to the artistry or physical boundaries, especially after social media allowed us all to have the whole world within our palms. Yours truly already figured this out long ago in the events of my own musical endeavours, but that's a different story. 

The world is filled with musicians who are incredibly gifted. Some are technical prodigies, and others are better at capturing the right atmosphere with fewer notes. In any case, the chance that you can find someone who is able to help you shape your music into its best possible form is enormous, and this is what helps musicians as well as listeners in the metal community connect. 

From Poland comes one of such technically gifted instrumentalists, a guitarist and composer by the name of Rafal Bowman, who is the primus motor for his musical playground, CHAOS OVER COSMOS. Founded in early 2017, he started writing music, and invited Javier Calderón from Spain to join forces. 

Though Bowman must be credited as the mastermind behind it all, Calderón made an essential contribution while providing lyrics to the material, and the first edition of the debut album was released in September 2018 as a three track effort. In April this year the album was released again with two new tracks, new mastering, a few re-recorded parts and brand new artwork, and this is the edition that this writer has been given the privilege to consider for this review. 

Both the name CHAOS OVER COSMOS as well as the cover artwork give an undeniable impression that any music that is to be heard on this album is going to have a progressive, space-inspired, futuristic sound and expression. Three seconds into the seventeen minute epic opener "Armour of the Stars" I get my suspicions confirmed. I'm already somewhere in space, and I realize there is nothing to do but lean back and see where the journey leads me. 

A quote written by Nietzsche himself is narrated over soaring keyboards in a sweeping ambience, and just before the three minute mark can be heard the first indication to who Bowman has been inspired by. Galloping kick drums and rhythm guitars throw my mind straight back to when I first heard "Caught Somewhere in Time". CHAOS OVER COSMOS has an overall more space-like sound than what was ever the case in Iron Maiden's music, but the main lead melody is something that could just as easily have been done by Murray/Smith.

A majestic chorus part with a good old Blind Guardian vibe marks a change of scenery, and from the epic riffs and melodic leads we're thrown into more complex passages that culminate in an excellent guitar solo. I suspect that Michael Romeo (Symphony X) is one that Rafal Bowman has lent an ear or two to before, and I'm hearing hints of John Petrucci and Herman Lee (DragonForce) in it as well. A nice contrast to the more accessible lead work earlier in the track. 

As mentioned, "Armour of the Stars" is seventeen minutes long, and there are a lot of things happening. A rich variety of riffs and solos with many dashes of technicality makes it quite a sparkling track, along with a middle section with more ambient elements over odd time signature drums. Eventually the track goes full circle and concludes with another mighty chorus part. 

"Dance of the Silver Blade" is another eight minute tale of epic and cosmic metal, and is not as fast as the monumental piece that opened the album. Nevertheless is it a strong track that showcases many different variations in atmospheric texture that also "Armour of the Stars" had in abundance. 

"The Compass" is in essence a more downtempo song. More based around ambient ideas, and a lot heavier than the first two tracks. Said to be a melodic and ambient personal journey, "The Compass" fits perfect for such a story, and was initially the closing track to the original release of the album. 

The Spanish singer Javier Calderón unfortunately left CHAOS OVER COSMOS after the first release of "The Unknown Voyage", and thereby leaving Bowman with two unreleased tracks. According to the promotional material I have based this review on, this brought Bowman the idea to reissue the album, thus extending its duration with 20 minutes. 

"Neon Nights" opens with a mystical theme that makes me want to go and watch Stranger Things again. Still very futuristic in its sound, but a bit more 80's inspired than what happens earlier in the album. More use of electronics also for rhythmical purposes makes it a bit different than the rest of "The Unknown Voyage", but with a hovering and enticing layer of mystery that seems to have a tight grip on this writer. The ambience put aside, the riffs on "Neon Nights" have a lot of Petruccian flair to them, and when an Ayreonesque chorus is added to the mix, then I am sure I have found my absolute favorite track on the album. 

"Sky" is the short and concise title to the instrumental conclusion to CHAOS OVER COSMOS' debut, and is no less impressive than any other composition on the album. 

"The Unknown Voyage" might be a difficult album to grasp after just one spin, as there are vast amounts of both speedy and intricate passages on here, but give it a couple more rounds and you will probably notice more detail. Nevertheless, it is a highly ambitious collection of equally ambitious compositions, and all performances done by both Rafal Bownam and Javie Calderón are done superbly. 

An undeniable fine effort! 

★★★★★★★★★☆

CHAOS OVER COSMOS:
Rafal Bowman - guitars, synth, programming
Javier Calderón - vocals, lyrics

Tracklist:
1. Armour of the Stars
2. Dance of the SIlver Blade
3. The Compass
4. Neon Nights
5. Sky

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