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The Pits of Existence
May 2010
Released: 2010, Indie
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Robert Williams

Formed way back in 1987, Oakland, California's long running thrash metal warriors KAOS have returned with their third full length album THE PITS OF EXISTENCE. Eleven tracks make up the new album (if you count the intro track) clocking in at just thirteen minutes shy of a solid hour of neck breaking thrash metal insanity. The new album is housed in a visually stunning digipack with some classic artwork depicting a mass of fallen angels courtesy of artist Tuomas Pekkarinen. A quick glance at the liner notes and it's worth noting that this latest offering is not only performed by the band, but also recorded and produced by the band as well. An impressive feat considering how slick the album's production comes off sounding.

"Enter Insanity" the album's intro track greets the unsuspecting listener with what sounds like some atmospheric fax-machine ring tones interspersed with demonic sub-frequency spoken word passages. Kick drums give way to bass and guitars and a final air-raid siren sounds the warning of the thrash attack to follow. "Bleed Some More" scorches onto the scene with double time old school thrash riffing and a pummeling drum performance from skin basher Burton Ortega. There are a lot of tempo changes in this, the album's first proper track, alongside some catchy breakdowns sure to induce some furious mosh pits down in the band's home state of California. "Pits of Existence" is next with some good old fashioned mid tempo thrash that makes you wanna put some horns or fists in the air. "Pits of Existence" may not be anywhere near as fast as the album's opener, but somehow comes off sounding ten times heavier and chock full of piss and vinegar.

Guitarist and vocalist Jason Darnell turns in a varied vocal performance on THE PITS OF EXISTENCE. At times his phrasing is frantic and venomous but he also throws down some more melodic clean vocals, such as the pre-chorus on "Blood Sacrifice". His high pitched screams at times recall those of Tim Clayborne (Hatred/Painmuseum) and that is definitely cool in my book. There are also some shouted gang vocals to be found throughout the disc. Both Jason Darnell and Stacey Murray are credited as simply "Guitar" so I'm not sure if they are trading solos or not, or if one of them plays rhythm and the other handles lead duties exclusively, but whatever the case there is tons of tasteful lead work to be found here. "Tear Us Apart" musically gives a bit of a nod to classic Kreator yet maintains its own unique identity, mostly due to Jason's pretty unique sounding vocals. The album comes to a close with "Exit Reality" an instrumental number that comes off as more of a spacey metallic jam session than anything.

Overall this is a very solid disc that should find repeated listens in the stereos of thrash enthusiasts. No retro throwback stuff, just an old school band constructing modern thrash excellence. The guys in KAOS have paid their dues for sure and it shows on THE PITS OF EXISTENCE.
Track Listing

1.Enter Insanity
2.Bleed Some More
3.Pits of Existence
4.Let God Sort Them Out
5.Blood Sacrifice
6.Out of Time
8.Screaming in the Mirror
9.Tear Us Apart
10.Soul to Give
11.Exit Reality


Jason Darnell - Vocals
Stacey Murray - Guitars
Kevin Gorski – Guitars
Paul Cowan – Bass
Burton Ortega - Drums

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