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
Christos 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.
So 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.