Descent – Order of Chaos Review

If Australia is trying to kill you, then Descent is the club with which it bludgeons its victims. The Brisbane five-piece burst onto the scene in 2018 with Towers of Grandiosity, which worshipped at the altar of the most primitive old-school death metal. But Towers rested too heavily on its Neanderthal influences, failing to make a mark amidst stiff competition from down-under brethren like Faceless Burial, The Plague, and Earth Rot. Descent’s latest attack, Order of Chaos aims to outshine the OSDM riffraff by incorporating weapons from neighboring genres into the band’s arsenal, in defiant response to our review (I assume). This brings Descent to a pivotal moment, as they try to pull off a change in their sound to remain relevant without sacrificing the savage force of their debut.

Order of Chaos superficially sounds like mere Swedeath imitation, but further listens reveal a variety of styles gurgling beneath the surface. The crux of Descent’s sound is early Immolation worship, with guitarists Brendan Auld and Josh Kane and bassist Jim Dandy churning out vintage riffs that sound both powerful and evil. But Order of Chaos distinguishes itself from Descent’s debut by borrowing more extensively from adjacent genres like hardcore (“Gathering,” “Fester,” “Filth,” “Safe”) and black metal (“Filth,” “Despotic”). This is most apparent in the guitars and the rhythm section but is also reflected in vocalist Anthony Oliver’s use of both standard death growls and Xoth-style blackened rasps. Order of Chaos’ diverse influences allows it to echo both the slow chugs and the intensity of classics like Dawn of Possession and Effigy of the Forgotten, while still sounding more frenetic than most old-school death metal.

Order of Chaos is designed for absolute mosh pit annihilation. Much of this is a result of Descent’s adept use of their motley influences to craft energetic songs that rise above the majority of caveman death metal. The hardcore-drenched riffs of “Fester,” “Filth,” and album highlight “Gathering” evoke Venom Prison, lunging forward with a contagious ferocity that throws me into a frenzy on every listen. The most concise example of Descent’s strengths is the deceptively-named two-minute maelstrom “Safe,” which beats the listener into submission by cycling frantically through war metal, Bütcher-esque blackened speed metal, Cro-Magnon death metal, and slam. Descent’s forte isn’t merely that they blend outside ideas into death metal, but that they use these ideas to craft lively tracks that would bring even the shiest of souls into the circle pit. Drummer Kingsly Sugden deserves a special mention; while he hardly reinvents the wheel, his thundering performance accentuates powerful riffs (“Dragged,” “Filth”) and provides a tom-led backbone for slower unholy sections that resemble Alex Hernandez-era Immolation or Vital RemainsDechristianize.

The straightforward old-school death metal parts of Order of Chaos are much less consistent than their genre-blending counterparts. With some occasional exceptions (like the main melody of “Dragged”), many of Descent’s barebones caveman passages (“Tempest,” “Fester,” “Despotic”) lack the strength and memorability of ancestors like Dismember and contemporary OSDM titans like Phrenelith. The weak simplicity of these sections also makes the record feel repetitive, as similarly constructed Homo habilis riffs in identical musical modes blend together after several listens. The least intense parts of Order of Chaos are also hit-or-miss. While “Resolve” and “Gathering” deftly incorporate ominous slowed-down passages that rip as hard as Unholy Cult, “Fester” and “Despotic” both contain sections that develop lackluster ideas at a snail’s pace. These laggard portions of Order of Chaos lack the live energy of the highlights and fail to either smash my skull or worm their way into it.

Order of Chaos is a respectable effort that might earn a higher score in a live setting but falters somewhat as a studio release. The band’s effort to build on their debut with a more varied sound is admirable, but not all of the record lands equally well. The one sure thing is that everyone should pounce on the first available opportunity to see Descent live. If you want to ring in 2022 by getting your cranium crushed as you wait for the new Immolation album, Order of Chaos isn’t the worst place to turn.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: V2 mp3
Labels: Redefining Darkness Records | Brilliant Emperor Records | Caligari Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 14th, 2021

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