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A New Dawn In The Age Of War

Evil EyE (2014)
Rating: 7.5/10

Having formed among the drab surroundings of Slough in Berkshire back in 2005, UK thrashers Divine Chaos clearly have every reason to express their fury. Just like Black Sabbath and numerous other British bands that grew up in rainy neighbourhoods, Divine Chaos is bringing British metal to the masses.

A New Dawn In The Age Of War is the band’s debut full-length album, believe it or not, and it comes some seven years after their 2007 four-song EP, Every Empire Shall Fall, which slipped somewhat under the radar.

Divine Chaos is the work of vocalist Ben Friston, bassist Dave Bennet, drummer James Stewart and the guitar duo of Chris O’Toole and Matt Gilmour. As soon as I slapped this record on, I couldn’t help but wonder how popular these guys may have been now if only this had been released alongside fellow countrymen Evile’s debut offering, Enter The Grave, back in 2007.

That first wave of thrash revival made a huge impact on the metal scene and judging by this effort, Divine Chaos would have gone down a storm. Even so, thrash is showing no signs of dying out and so this nine-song outing should garner the band attention within metal circles.

Before I listened to this opus I had concerns that it may have been let down by the usual humorous injections and watery production, but A New Dawn In The Age Of War is spot on thrash metal that I’d put above Evile and the likes any day.

The only real issue with contemporary British thrash metal is that so many bands seem a touch Americanised; it seems a long time ago now that the likes of Acid Reign graced our ears with their localised comedy thrash, while the more successful groups of the day such as Xentrix spent too much time aping their American heroes. Even Onslaught – who were responsible for such classics as Power From Hell (1985) and The Force (1986) – now exist within that Slayer-type mould, so it’s no surprise that Divine Chaos provides a similar froth and shine. Even so, this is still barbaric thrash that is heavy, fast and volatile and sits nicely alongside other UK bands of the same ilk.

Opener ‘Last Confession’ is a touch too long but it’s a real battering ram of thrash metal that combines several influences. In its faster segments there is the usual Slayer-meets-German thrash fury but as the track proceeds it’s clear that Divine Chaos are not just here to mimic. There are elements of vintage Sepultura mixed with Carcass at their most intricate and mature, although Friston’s vocals – for all of their hostility – are typical thrash rasps. James Stewart is a behemoth on the sticks and runs rampant through this track; his kicks, jabs and jolts slot nicely within the framework of solos and razor-sharp riffs.

Although the overall sound is crisp, the album doesn’t rely on gloss. Instead, the likes of ‘Death Toll Rising’ especially, have a Megadeth glean about them initially but then follow a path of brutality. It’s certainly evident that Divine Chaos are experienced musicians, and not just a bunch of kids here for the trend. The juddering nature of ‘The Myth Of Human Progress’ showcases once again the superb drumming of Stewart, and isn’t afraid in adding a progressive slant as the quintet marches through pacier aggression mixed with slower, menacing grooves.

This is very much contemporary thrash metal, but a noise which as the band’s press statement comments, “picks up where seminal thrash bands such as Sepultura, Death and Carcass left off in the early 90s”, and I’d certainly agree with that.

Vocally, Friston has a sort of Chuck Schuldiner (Death) rasp at times and with the marrying of melody and disdain, musically it makes for an interesting listen. My only real issue is that some of the tracks are a tad too long, with ‘Ignorance Everlasting’, ‘Fields Of The Fallen’, ‘Perpetual War Policy’ and the aforementioned ‘Last Confession’ all clocking in at over six minutes. But if you like your frenzied tales of a collapsed economy, the shadowy New World Order and all out war-torn fury, then the debut offering from Divine Chaos could well be one of the thrash highlights of 2014.

Neil Arnold

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