Chaosweaver // Enter the Realm of the Doppelgänger
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Apparently this doppelgänger ate The Kovenant
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: myspace.com | facebook.com
Release Dates: SE: 2012.06.27 | EU: 2012.06.29 | NA: 07.10.2012
Finnish metal has long been the 14th wonder of the world. Producing bands like Moonsorrow, Omnium Gatherum, Crimfall and Amorphis, the fecund Finnish field has slowly been plumbed to its remarkable depths. So color me surprised when Napalm Records managed to find a new, talented Finnish band I’d never heard of; industrial black metallers (so-called “cinematic black metal”) Chaosweaver. These guys had one full length on the now (seemingly) defunct label Shadow World by the name of Puppetmaster of Pandemonium back in 2008 and are now returning four years later with their Napalm Records debut Enter the Realm of the Doppelgänger. This record is a tale of horror, but also imitation; a fitting theme, because the guys from The Kovenant called wondering who’d crawled off with their corpse.
Starting with the obligatory introductory track, the orchestrations and strains of electronic keys fade into a deep, tortured voice breathing heavily into the microphone like when Steel Druhm calls in the middle of the night [wrong number…sorry – Steel Druhm], “Am I awake?” “What is this place?” And after a squeaky cartoon voice names the record, the real fun takes off with the track “Wings of Chaos”: a mid-paced blast with lush keyboard orchestrations and the croaks of Cypher Commander (who also doubles as Shade Empire‘s vocalist) that immediately evoke late 1990s Norwegian black metal. The triggered drums and driving 8th note snare drum certainly help knock home the sound and it’s well done, even if it’s easy to put your finger on what they’re driving at.
Enter the Realm of the Doppelgänger doesn’t just contain driving tracks like “Maelstrom of the Black Light” or “Crystal Blue,” but also a number of slower tracks which remind me of Dimmu Borgir‘s later, more groove oriented work at times. The track “A Requiem for a Lost Universe” is borderline doom, with dark, melancholic guitar work, while “Ragnarök Sunset” builds up epic musical landscapes with strings and clean vocals, never really letting loose; instead closing out the record with a keyboard part worthy of Arcturus. The last facet of the band’s sound comes back to that late 90s Norwegian orchestral black metal stuff—blasts, copious double bass, with keyboards that run arpeggios while Cypher Commander croaks along like a mental patient reciting his bad dreams. These tracks work well, they’re fun to listen to and you find yourself nodding your head and knowing where the band is going (particular props to the second half of the track “Infection” which evokes La Masquerade Infernale but doesn’t imitate).
But it’s also that level of predictability that means that Chaosweaver isn’t going to blow up without some more original sounds. Sure, I love this sound—but I also was a fan of the Norwegian scene’s excesses at the time that they were happening. I think the mixture of industrial and electronic sounds work here, creating driving and fun music; but it’s far too easy to say “Oh, it sounds like The Kovenant or Dimmu Borgir” and write it off in that moment. The production doesn’t really help the matter, either. The drums sound mechanical and the industrial aspects really push that Animatronic sound—even if these guys have a much more natural sound than The Kovenant had—but they even have the rhythmic guitar squeal from “New World Order” on the track “Crystal Blue.” Talented bands get felled and doomed to midlevel success by immediate comparisons and those comparisons are far too simple to draw with Enter the Realm of the Doppelgänger.
Still, if you’re feeling nostalgic for that scene and want some new music, I strongly suggest you check this record out. It’s not a bad album by any stretch, the tracks are fun, the performances are great and the idea is strong. The weakness lies in Chaosweaver‘s inability to really lance out into new territory with their sound. But it’s not like the talent isn’t there! So I look forward to hearing more from this band of doppelgängers when they’ve taken on the skin of a new victim.