I enjoy discovering metal bands from the different corners of the world, beyond the usual hot spots, often leading to exotic and tasty finds. However, for no particular reason, the Indian metal scene has remained largely a mystery to me. Last year, unheralded Indian band Kryptos released the ragingly impressive Burn up the Night, certainly making a big enough impression to alert me to the potentially hidden wonders of the wider Indian metal scene. Formed in 2005 in Trivandrum, Kerala, Chaos have a demo and 2013 debut Violent Redemption under their belts, returning with this second LP of high octane thrash that marries old-school aesthetics with raw and an aggressive modern flair. This refreshing combo helps set Chaos apart from the hordes of rethrash obsessives and overly polished productions attached to many modern outfits. Forgot the painfully generic band name, Chaos bring confrontational aggression and truckloads of speed, energy, and groove to their riff-heavy attack.
Running at a lean and mean 34 minutes, Chaos don’t fuck around with fancy stuff, ripping through song after song of aggro thrash, embellished with tasteful shredding, swaggering Pantera-esque grooves and plenty of steely grit and old school spirit. The pacing is relentless but rarely sacrifices solid dynamics and songcraft. All Against All possesses an infectious immediacy, with catchy songwriting embellished by groovy mid-paced beat downs and savage execution. While I don’t know the finer lyrical details, the turbulent social, political and environmental landscape of their homeland seems like perfect fuel to drive the band’s pissed off aggression and slum-wise attitude. Packing tons of cranked speed, visceral guitar work and rugged groove within a mere two minutes, opener “The Great Divide” does a superb job of slamming the momentum into overdrive from the outset. Similarly, the title track jolts you in all the right ways, like strong morning coffee on the back of a foggy hangover, a rush of blazing riffs, ’80s-inspired thrash shred and a shout-a-long vocal hook.
Vocally, frontman Jayakroishnan may lack variety, but he compensates through the passionate, raw-throated savagery of his thrash-meets-hardcore screams, lending the album a vicious streak, further bolstered by a nasty guitar tone and overall unvarnished sound of the instruments. That’s not to suggest the rawer nature of the production and delivery takes anything away from the uniformly polished performances, representative of a band that has been toiling away relentlessly in the underground for over a decade, honing their strong instrumental chops. At their best, Chaos write confident, quality thrash songs, though the complete songwriting scale swings more towards the solid end rather than achieving consistent greatness, despite hurling several particularly vicious and catchy fireballs, such as the invigorating, hook-laden gallop of “Indoctrination,” and tough, riff-driven crunch of “Asylum.” Although there are no misfires, the larger portion of the material hits with a solid thud but falls short of the album’s high points.
Adrenaline levels are consistently elevated as Chaos release their aggression in sharp, violent bursts of potent and infectiously fun, no-frills thrash. Sure, there’s nothing here that reinvents the thrash wheel, but Chaos certainly succeeded in crafting an intense and frequently satisfying experience, imbued with songwriting smarts, a gritty punk streak, and cutthroat mentality. Guitarist/lyricist Nikhil deserves extra praise for his excellent axework, coupling old school shred and ripping solos with classic thrash riffs and a toughened edge. Typically compressed mastering aside, All Against All is equipped with punchy, gnarled tones to match their raw, hostile brand of thrash. And the engaging in-your-face crunch benefits from the production’s clear but rough, unpolished form.
All Against All hit me with surprising force, attacking the senses like a tenacious pitbull and rarely letting up or taking the foot off the gas, except to slam your head into the gutter via rugged, headbanging grooves or during the delicate, soulful notes of closing track “The Escape.” When all is said and done, All Against All won’t land near the top of the metal heap by year’s end, but Chaos do an admirable job of scratching that elusive thrash itch with bloodthirsty enthusiasm and a ferocious hunger all too rare in the modern thrash scene.