Album Review: NEXUL Paradigm of Chaos
As metal’s fragmentation continues and disparate factions move in one direction or another, there’s a current of extreme metal that remains consistent. This is the cadre of bands that stick with the legacy of classic extreme metal and rawer versions of its progeny: Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, Possessed, Sarcófago, Bathory, early Slayer, early Morbid Angel and so on. It’s a style that’s not exactly black metal, though the cold winds blow through it. It’s not exactly death metal, and yet the skulls and rot certainly creeps into it. And of course, it’s far beyond just “thrash,” but the slashing blades of that classic sound are unavoidable.
No label specializes in this brand of oppressive and glorious noise as much as Hell’s Headbangers. And of the many bands that represent the label, Texas’ Nexul is a great example. On their album, Paradigm of Chaos, they blend black and death metal in a noisy, reverb-heavy way, but remain mostly coherent. By coherent, I mean they don’t quite reach “war metal” levels of insanity associated with bands like Archgoat and Bestial Warlust.
The band presents itself in the following way:
“This Paradigm of Chaos was conceived over three years, during which time we plunged into entropy and strife, either through our own making or tribulation from external forces. What has emerged is a corporeal/ethereal mirror, a destructive pattern woven of audial lunacy and spiritual fervour towards the Great Dragon that is called LEVIATHAN.”
Sure, this kind of bravado has become standard among similar bands, though not as much as more general “occult” musings (if I had a dollar for every band who referenced the “ouroboros”). But I have to admire the unironic panache of a band that throws irony to the wind and claims outright that they “worship the darkness!”
As for the music itself, ominous and riff-heavy monsters like “Hexecration” and crushingly evil numbers like “Chaosipher Tower” (complete with dive bomb guitar screams) certainly scratch a particular itch for a fan of straightforward, unpretentious metal (like myself). But as much as I like raw metal with plenty of reverb, this can be taken too far, as I think Nexul does with the vocals. And while chaotic-sounding guitars are cool, you don’t want to make it so noisy where you overwhelm your own riffs (this was, in a different way, my problem with last year’s Behexen record). I don’t mention this to slight the band, but to highlight the strength of a song like “Drowning Sephiroth,” where you can actually hear all the excellence taking place.
Still, these drawbacks don’t hurt the record enough to not make it worth at least a couple spins IF this is the kind of thing you’re in the mood for. If you like Profanatica but wish they did something more in line with bands like Revenge, then this is the record for you. Great metal to listen to in the dark: bring the candles and see if anything interesting pops into the shadows.
Favorite songs: “Hexecration,” “Leviathan Unbound,” “Drowning Sephiroth,” and “Chaosipher Tower”