Chaostar // Anomima
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Anomima… don’t even go there drunk.
Label: Season of Mist Records
Websites: Facebook.com/chaostar.official | MySpace.com/chaostarofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2013.05.10 | NA: 28.05.2013

Booklet 16PChristos Antoniou is a busy guy, classically trained musician and composer, he’s probably more commonly associated with the likes of Septicflesh. Album after album they’ve brought something huge, dramatic and tasty to the table and if you’re like me you’ve ravenously gobbled up every last scrap and looked around for seconds.  Well here they are… what you may or may not know is that Christos has a side-project called Chaostar, born round the time Septicflesh released The Eldest Cosmonaut.  While their core sound definitely captures some of what makes Septicflesh great, it’s also enough set apart that it’s an entirely different entity. Bringing more Greek flavored music to the table, Chaostar have a neoclassical, darkwave approach that’s not really metal but for metalheads that enjoy baroque style classical music their sound will hold some appeal. Anomima (meaning sin, or an unapproved action) is Chaostar‘s fourth full length and follows on from Underworld, their truly spectacular 2007 compilation of remastered rarities and new material released under Holy Records. Seeing how Chaostar have grown, knowing their roots and finding out that they’re now signed to Season of Mist, not even a tornado could have held me back from Anomima once I heard about it!

The first thing you’re going to notice when you hit play is that Chaostar have a new voice at the helm. Natalie Rassoulis along with her beautiful, emotionally charged vocal style have left the building – color me disappointed! In her place Chaostar have Androniki Skoula, who you’ll also find on Hate‘s Solarflesh, Rotting Christ‘s Aealo and Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού and Septicflesh‘s The Great Mass among a host of other projects that I’m not familiar with and are really just too numerous to mention. While I loved her tasteful contributions across the aforementioned albums, on Anomima her over-the-top sometime jazzy, but mostly operatic style grates my carrot and I get random urges to hit skip when she starts going truly overboard with the theatrics – tracks like “The Charmer” (with its Diablo Swing Orchestra feel) and “L’idee fixe” are just two of the tracks suffering this ailment. Anomima has some male vocals, but they’re few and far between and range between the theater style narration on “Medea” and “間 (MA’s)” cringe-worthy cleans – more disappointment.

Instrumentally Anomima is a win. It’s a mass of layers and textures all merging into a dark and dynamic force that circles your mind much like the black vultures referenced in “Medea”. The album makes full use of traditional instrumentation, orchestral and atmospheric elements along with an interesting blend of the electronic and tracks like “Medea”, “Truth Will Prevail” and “L’idee fixe” end up sounding fresh and exciting because of this electronic element. The instrumentation is tight and played with precision; and Christos has captured enough dark atmosphere and hugeness for this offering to draw fans of both Artesia and Aythis alike.

Chaostar 300x300So other than the vocals being more miss than hit, my next big gripe is that the album art brings to mind poorly attempted manga and for  this blatant misdemeanor I’ve deducted half and Angry Metal Point! It’s a drastic departure from their earlier album artwork (both in style and quality) and that of Septicflesh, and it’s completely lost on me why Chaostar went this route.     

At the onset of receiving Anomima I had much anticipation, but it’s been whittled away somewhat with repeated listens and while there are definitely tracks that I’ll return to in time “Truth Will Prevail” the rocking “L’idee fixe” and the revamped version of “Misery’s King” (that ended up getting a lot of replay) there are even more that I’ll be inclined to skip.  To be blunt, Anomima is no match for Underworld and Chaostar‘s earlier work – if you’re looking for a good place to start with Chaostar pick up Underworld

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  • Michael Imbornoni

    Really? Taking off half a point for something that has nothing to do with the music? From what I’ve heard, it definitely sits around a 2.5, but that just seems wrong.

    • Madam__X

      Album art, and lyrics have everything to do with the music, they all go hand in hand, working together in catching your eye, setting the tone, telling the story and in creating the complete package.
      Even in this age of the digital download, I’m a sucker for an attractive album cover and Chaostar’s previous covers were absolute works of art.

      • Michael Imbornoni

        Personally, the visual medium is a baser art. Truly great music appeals to higher sensibilities, and to shackle it to its packaging is perverse.

        • Well, I don’t really know what you mean by “baser”, if you are trying to imply that it’s a lowlier form of art, then I must heartily disagree, but that will have to be the base of another conversation.

          The “shackling” on the other hand, was made by the band. Or at the very, very least, the label. I’m with Madam_X, the packaging must be taken into account because it is all sold as such. This may be a relic from a different era, since I come to like album art since the nostalgic days of vinyl. But still, until deemed irrelevant by whatever future technology may bring to the music distribution business, it’s all part of the deal.

          Now, the cover illustration it’s not abysmal, but it has an “unfinished” quality that in turn cheapens the whole album a bit more. There should be a rule for cover and album art in general, if it does not make any favors to your music, I’d say you should pick something else. Anything else. Even a solid color fill with a cool font or the band logo can work. It’s been done before. That way you would *really* make your music stand by itself. But if you decide to go for a cheap design, don’t wonder when it becomes the focus of critique.

    • i agree, griping about the crappy cover art is fine. taking a half point off the score is really wrong. by that reckoning you could take points off some really classic albums for shitty front covers.