Sunday, December 27, 2009

Order From Chaos - Stillbirth Machine & Crushed Infamy

1993, Decapitated/Wild Rags - 1989, Wild Rags- 1998, Osmose

1.The Edge of Forever07:09
2.Power Elite04:45
3.Iconoclasm Conquest02:35
4.Forsake Me This Mortal Coil05:11
5.Stillbirth Machine07:33
6.Blood And Thunder04:02
7.As The Body Falls Away04:09
8.Webs of Perdition04:51
10.Crimes Against The State03:34
Of Death And Dying02:47
12.Blood And Thunder04:41

Order From Chaos. Stillbirth Machine. These two terms are analogous to death metal, and unfortunately haven't received the full recognition they deserve until more recent years, with various reissues becoming available. This album is a downright classic, and manages to capture the true spirit of death metal (and extreme metal in general), and at the same time avoids being like anything else that has come out of the genre. The combination of 80's death metal and the power of hardcore punk coupled with Pete Helmkamp's lyrical genius has made "Stillbirth Machine" (and every other OFC release for that matter) a top release in the metal world.

The album starts off with "Aion", which some may recognize as a piece used in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey", and is quite an appropriate build up of ambience and eerie noises to the first actual song, "The Edge of Forever". Right away, the production stands out. The guitar tone is thick and filthy, with the bass simply adding to the album's black mass sound. Overall, a very fitting production style, it suits the riffs and makes them just all the more devastating, with the other instruments coming though without sounding polished in the least.

The riffs here are fantastic. Chuck Keller certainly has his very own style of riff writing, with tons of rhythmic flair and variation. This works extremely well with Mike Miller's punk influence drumming, as he pummels away and pushes the riffs in just the right spots. Each riff is carefully arranged, ensuring that they each stand out and have purpose in the song. Nothing seems out of place, and at the same time nothing seems predictable. Order From Chaos manage to keep their songs interesting, and you never feel like anything drags.

One will probably notice after a few tracks that there are no blast beats on this album at all. This works pretty well for Order From Chaos, as they never really do anything typical for death metal. This band, as mentioned, works a lot on rhythmic flair, and such a straight through beat as a blast beat would probably not benefit them very much. Instead, intricate work between feet and hands playing barbaric and sometimes primitive beats are the main offering on this album.

Keller's lead work is also worth a mention. The horrifying guitar tone achieved on the rhythm tracks has also been translated over into the lead tone. Dive bombs, slides, tapping, among various other techniques have been utilized in his solos. Thankfully, Keller's technique is not the main focus of the solos, as he strings together memorable licks that sound chaotic yet have their own sense of melody. Some solos are certainly noisier than others, like in "Iconoclasm Conquest", where others are more lick oriented (see: "Forsake Me This Mortal Coil").

Of course, one of the winning features about Order From Chaos is found within the lyrical department. Pete Helmkamp wrote the majority of the lyrics on this record, Keller handling two of the tracks. Helmkamp's lyrics tend to revolve around Nietzsche influenced philosophy. Helmkamp's basic idea is about the "will to power", a belief in the self's ability to achieve, as well as ideas related the band's name, all mixed with some occult allusions. His lyrics in Angelcorpse were great, but these are more focused in a "grand scheme" of things. Keller's lyrics have more to do with the cosmos and prove to be just as interesting to read. His interest in space certainly expanded later in OFC's career, and later in his solo project, Vulpecula. Helmkamp spits these lyrics out in a violent rage storm, proving himself to be one of the most ferocious vocalist in all of metal. There is use of double tracking, with the second track being much lower, much like Sarcofago.

There isn't a single thing I can find wrong with this record. It's memorable and well written, has one of the most horrifying atmospheres ever recorded in death metal, features great musicianship while managing not to be flashy, and contains thoughtful and provoking lyrics. This is a record that every metal fan should hear, as it unites music and lyrical concept very well in ways that so many bands wish they could.


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