Portland, Oregon seems the home of the wistful, the home of somber, shifting post-metal with a blackened bejeweled heart. Not too long ago we heard from Agalloch (with a sobering attempt at creating infinity in The Serpent & The Sphere) and now hot on the heels of 2013’s Codex Constellatia, Chasma return with their third full-length release. I’m a slacker and while I can remember seeing the blood red adorned Codex Constellatia hit the promo bin, it’s release date came and went and got lost in the metal mire. Omega Theorian was a little more persistent in succeeding where the earlier release didn’t. Dressed in the very finest thick, atmospheric shrieks and winding melodies of Abigail Williams, the apathy of Vatnett Viskar and cold pummelling of Ash Borer, Chasma are dressed to the nines and they’ve finally made their mark on my playlist.
The arrhythmic heartbeat of “The Emblazement” with it’s swirling calm and rich vocal jazz kicks off the journey. It’s going to have you checking the album and band info to make sure you’re indeed listening to Chasma with it’s Diablo Swing Orchestra, Obscure Sphinx type oddness and like it did with me, will probably leave you surprised and disorientated by the addictive female vocals and catchiness. I’d love for this track to have built up and gone on way longer and for the band to have utilized this vocalist on more than one occasion – sadly they don’t.
The following sounds of “Cathedral of Luminaries” set the tone of the remainder of the album. From this song it’s easy to hear that Chasma‘s journeys flow logically from one to the next adopting a similar moodily unpolished production style to Codex Constellatia with nods to the lost but not forgotten sounds of say Agalloch‘s From Which of This Oak. There’s enough fuzz and murk in the emotion laced melodies and meek guitar soloing gone awry for the course to convince and there’s ample clarity to fascinate.
The tracks build on each other in length and intensity, peppered with interludes that shift and re-shape, attack and back away, keeping you engaged the more you dig into Chasma‘s journey – it’s a little like jumping aboard Falkor in a race to outrun the Nothing. “Arcane Firebirth” and “Frozen Paths to Never” perfectly show off the vocal variety of bassist Ryan Whyte (ex-Nanda Devi) and drummer Aaron Schomaker (Apparatia, ex-Nanda Devi and ex-Altar of Earth). Between them they deliver horrified screams so piercing you’ll be convinced their throats are being cut, entwined with the throaty hoarseness that reminds me of the early rasp of John Haughm.
Omega Theorian, aggressively enjoyable, elegant journey though it may be, is not without fault. The album has a tendency to re-use ideas and repeats certain riffs to the point where compositions lose their individuality and identity and end up sounding very much alike. This album doesn’t prompt me to head further back through Chasma‘s discography, but it certainly does encourage me to keep and eye on the band’s future endeavours and it builds some excitement for the blackened and sentimental post-metal turbulence towards which Chasma seem to be heading.