Australia is becoming a hotbed for amazing music, especially of the progressive variety. Chaos Divine is one of those bands that I wish could be more known and consequently more active, but I do cherish whatever we do get from them. It’s been five years since their previous album, but we are finally getting a new one, called “Legacies”, which releases on October 16th.
I first encountered Chaos Divine through their amazing 2011 album “The Human Connection”. I was instantly impressed with their seemingly natural ability to be satisfyingly heavy and desperately emotional at the same time. In 2015, they released “Colliding Skies”, a masterful album wherein they explored melody even more. Now, with “Legacies”, they seem to be combining these sounds.
As I mentioned, the band hails from Perth, Australia. The lineup for this album includes Dave Anderton on vocals, Ryan Felton and Simon Mitchell on guitars, Michael Kruit on bass, and Tim Stelter on drums. Brody Simpson guests on additional percussion. You’ll notice that they don’t have a keyboardist, but somehow they are more melodic than many bands that do.
Chaos Divine plays a progressive metal that borrows from progressive death, but also from AOR and anthemic styles of rock. The band has a giant sound, one that could fill stadiums, and they never give up tight songwriting for technical wankery. The band often sounds larger than life, and just when you think they are plateauing, they take the melody up another few notches. Add to that a sense of groove and space, and you have a band that should be much more popular.
I’ve always sensed the contrasts in their sound. Yes, they utilize harsh vocals—really well textured ones, at that—but also magnificent vocal melodies akin to Journey or Boston. It feels like a bit of a paradox, but it works so well that you’ll be singing along with almost every track. With “Legacies”, I can’t help but feel like the band is returning a bit to their “The Human Connection” sound. There are more harsh vox here than on their last album, and it overall feels a bit heavier, too. But it’s more than that. “The Human Connection” lyrically expressed Dave’s admiration for the legacy of his own father, but with this album he is now the father, and he is hoping that he can leave the same sort of legacy. It’s a fantastic premise that connects the albums, and you can hear the hope and determination in Dave’s voice.
With that said, Dave once again proves to me why he is one of the best singers in the business. He hits many amazing high notes, yes, but it is his ability to craft perfect phrasings and express intense emotions that always captivates me. He is fantastic. Of course, the melody also comes from Ryan and Simon on guitars; they offer some of the most direct, most whimsical licks I’ve heard this year, while also giving us plenty of meaty riffs. Combine all of that with Mike’s groovy bass and Tim’s phenomenal drumming, and there isn’t a weak link here.
“Legacies” has thirteen tracks, which is fairly long for progressive albums nowadays. The album flys by, though, and never bogs down. I think this is partially due to the wonderful lyrics. The band is obviously thinking about the legacy they leave behind, especially to their children, and that really connects all of the songs into a thoughtful web of spirituality and relationship.
With albums this long, I usually feel like one half or the other is superior, but not here. The first half has heavy hitters like “Unspoken”, “Only Son”, and “Guarding Gravity”, while the second half gets “False Flags”, “Dead Rivers Flow”, “The Key”, and “Into the Now”. “Unspoken” is one of the singles, and I can’t express how much I love this song. The multi-leveled chorus is tattooed on my soul at this point. “False Flags” is another single, and, man, does it burn with melody and purpose. The huge hook in the chorus is honestly worth the price of buying the album itself. “Beacon” is the third single, and is also wonderful. It took a couple listens, but its subtle changes and movements are really connecting with me now.
The second half really does have some amazing songs to offer. “Dead Rivers Flow” is a bit more reserved than other songs, and I love the gravy vocals on it. The song slowly works itself into a beautiful tizzy that never fails to impress. The last three songs on the record are essentially perfect. “The Key” feels cinematic to some extent, but also mysterious and promising. The title track comes next, being a 2-minute cinematic soundscape of electronic loops and subtle beauty. It sets the stage for the closer, “Into the Now”, with grace and anticipation. The final song doesn’t disappoint, either. It ends the album with assertion, riveting licks, and a great last few minutes.
Chaos Divine are one of the more underrated albums in progressive music. They have so much to offer, not least of which is a monumental amount of emotion. Their talent is on the same level, too, and “Legacies” proves that. This album simply leaves me feeling satisfied and focused. To me, that signifies a mature and ultimately transcendent experience.
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