Released: 2014, Evileye Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Divine Chaos are the second impressive new thrash metal band to emerge from England in the past couple months. And like countrymen Shrapnel – whose first album The Virus Conspires was issued in February - before them, they've been kicking around for quite some time, honing their chops, playing locally and flying largely under the radar until, kaboom!
A New Dawn In The Age of War certainly is an explosive full-length debut – the band did self-release the four-song Every Empire Shall Fall EP in 2007. Old schoolish thrash delivered with plenty of modern muscle and production values – and buoyed by the superb drumming of Vader's James Stewart – A New Dawn is imposing, expansive and quite crushing.
Taking a page from post-Tempo of the Damned Exodus and pre-”Black Album” Metallica, Divine Chaos revel in technical thrash metal extravagance loaded with crunching hooks, dogfight leadwork, turbulent rhythms, a multitude of parts and grand scale, all of which is bolstered by Scott Atkins' crisp and clean, big and bombastic production. It is quite a departure from the typical old-school roughness many current “re-thrash” bands insist upon.
Good thing Divine Chaos were able to see past such retro trappings, because the album sounds fantastic, boasting a sonic richness and impact that commands and demands attention. It helps that the songs all kick ass as well. The band go for the gusto right off the bat, opening with the seven-plus minute “Last Confession” that is a shitstorm of swirling, surging riffs, solos, blazing tempos that turn on a dime and Benny Friston's fire-breathing vocals – vaguely recalling Exodus' “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles.”
The rest of A New Dawn largely follows suit, with hints of death metal and a few low-end “modern metal” grooves popping up from time to time. Yet like Metallica's Master of Puppets, everything seems to have its place. The material rarely, if ever, feels indulgent despite its complexity nor do the songs seem like a bunch of random parts forcibly stitched together into some sort of thrash metal Frankenstein's monster.
And despite its rather obvious influences, Divine Chaos' sound can't be dismissed as contrived – A New Dawn certainly is not mere imitation as flattery. Sure they may have borrowed some old ideas, but the band make them their own with confidence and authority here, especially on “Shadow of God,” the riveting “Rivers of Blood,” “Perpetual War Policy” or the riff-tastically catchy “Ignorance Everlasting.”
It may have taken Divine Chaos a while to really get things rolling – the band formed in 2005 after all – but during that time they have made themselves into a force to be reckoned with. A New Dawn is one awesome debut, and hopefully a sign of better and heavier things to come.