Chaos Over Cosmos, The Ultimate Multiverse review (Narcoleptica Productions 2020)

High concept Prog Metal duo Chaos Over Cosmos release their second album, The Ultimate Multiverse.

I wrote “duo,” and it is true, but the driving force behind the project is Rafal Bowman who started Chaos Over Cosmos with Javier Calderón in 2017. The two musicians, Rafal in Poland and Javier in Spain, never met in person and collaborated at this great remove to create The Unknown Voyage in 2018. There is a message here and an example for us all in the current state of world affairs, isn’t there. Javier moved on to other things after that first album, and Rafal worked with Joshua Ratcliff (Australia) on the new set in the same remote way. Rafal is credited with guitars, synths, drum programming, songwriting, and Joshua with vocals, lyrics, songwriting. The collaboration has produced an expansive soundscape that reaches across genres of contemporary music.

If you wanted to land this album in one category, it would be Prog, and you might refine it to Prog Metal. “Cascading Darkness” plants a flag in the land of Prog at the jump, with a swirling opening that puts you immediately in mind of bands like Saga. The guitars kick in soon, though, and they are bigger and heavier than you hear in most Prog acts. And then there is the vocalizations – the first ones we hear are very much Death Metal, morphing into a kind of sinister screaming whisper, and alternating (occasionally overlaid) with clean vocals. The percussion holds a driving tempo throughout, shifting up and down as the terrain changes. The keyboards are technically astute and creatively exploratory. All of this on the first song. As you progress through the set, you get alternate takes and new musical vistas, things completely different and some familiar homages as well. Most of the songs are on the long side, except the closer, “Asimov,” which is radio length and kind of a curtain call for the overall performance.

The Ultimate Multiverse is available for download now at Bandcamp. In the Prog Metal lane, Chaos Over Cosmos is creating a solid place in the world for its music.

Links.

https://chaosovercosmos.bandcamp.com/album/the-ultimate-multiverse

https://www.facebook.com/chaosovercosmos/

Chaos Over Cosmos, The Ultimate Multiverse review (Narcoleptica Productions 2020)

Northern Crown, In A Pallid Shadow review (2020)

Another exploration is launched with Northern Crown’s third full-length album, In A Pallid Shadow.

The band is a little bit hard to pin down if you are looking to label them in a category. I have most often seen them called a doom metal act, but that isn’t quite right. Elements are there, it is true, but that is not their overarching vibe, at least not to me. Prog, too, I’ve seen quite a bit. That category is broad enough to encompass a wide array of bands, but I wouldn’t call Northern Crown prog, either. A hybrid band, then, a crossover, or maybe just a category all their own. One thing is certain: every album sounds different.

The credits listed in the press materials make no reference to anyone playing keyboards, but they are a prominent feature of the music, literally in every song. Maybe it is more mysterious that way. The album begins with “Leprosarium,” which has a very grungy sound to it. I kept expecting Eddie Vedder to jump off a balcony. That’s it for the grunge, though, because in the next song, “The Last Snowfall,” the music turns to campfire storytelling with the non-vocal instruments playing supporting roles. That is true in the first half. Past the midpoint, the music fills in the story and the playful lead break has something to say as well.

A solo piano line opens “A Vivid Monochrome.” Appropriate. Slow and quiet in the first half of the song, electrified strings muscle some of the placidity out in their roll toward the end. “8 Hours” has a quiet beginning too but it is a tease. Heavy riffs and dramatic vocals insist the song in a theatrical direction. The closer, “Observing,” pops on like a heavy metal Kansas song with Point of Know Return keyboards and guitars. Not for long – the rest of the song has more in common with a Dio anthem than with the 1970s pre-prog masters. There is much to appreciate in this new album, and it comes at you from many different angles.

Available on July 3, make it a point to catch up with Northern Crown and see where they are on their journey.

Links.

https://music.northerncrownband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NorthernCrownDoom/

Northern Crown, In A Pallid Shadow review (2020)