Artist: Organized Chaos
Album Title: Divulgence
Label: Independent Release
Date Of Release: 7 December 2017
I had literally no intention of writing any more reviews for albums released in 2017. I will admit that having written over 100 to date, burnout was edging closer and I wanted to recharge the batteries ready to tackle all that 2018 has to offer. And then this disc arrived. Or, more accurately, an email arrived from Vladimir Lalić, asking me to take a listen to the latest release from his progressive metal band, Organized Chaos. The rest, as they say, is history.
And Organized Chaos is very much Lalić’s band as it was his brainchild; his vehicle by which he could experiment with some musical ideas. This was incredibly well over a decade ago but the wait has been worth it, I can tell you. In the intervening years, the Serbian band has released a demo in 2005, followed by a debut album, ‘Inner Conflict’ in 2011. I know nothing of the debut, except that it contained over 80 minutes of music and found some critical acclaim. But aside from that, nothing prepared me for what I would experience with ‘Divulgence’.
Since the debut, the Belgrade-based progressive metal band have experienced a few line-up changes and so the 2017 incarnation is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Lalić, alongside drummer Milan Yeqy Jejina, bassist Bojan Kvočka, guitarist Benjamin Lechuga and keyboardist David Maxim Micić. Together, these five musicians have seriously impressed me.
What I like about Organized Chaos is that they’ve not let any inhibitions get in the way of their output and so their music is genuinely interesting and hugely engaging. ‘Divulgence’ does reveal a few of the Serbians’ influences, namely early Pain of Salvation, Enochian Theory, Mechanical Poet and Devin Townsend. A clever and fresh blend of these bands might have been good enough to catch my attention on their own. However, Organized Chaos add a liberal amount of originality to their music and an absolute truckload of quirkiness, caused by an ability to fuse other genres into their already rich tapestry.
Classical music, fusion, funk, Latin; the experimentation is full on throughout ‘Divulgence’. And, normally, I’d be worried that such an eclectic musical palette would sound messy, disjointed or lacking in cohesion. Had ‘Divulgence’ been 80 minutes long like the debut, I have a feeling this might have been the case. However, their sophomore effort is a much more honed, succinct affair, spread over seven tracks and halved in length.
But, even more importantly, Organized Chaos demonstrate some seriously strong song writing. And when I say ‘seriously strong’, I mean it. It is so strong that each of the seven tracks is memorable in many different ways, pulling me back for repeated listens despite the progressive, technical and downright oddball nature of the music. Songs that are this multi-layered, complex and weird in places should not be this irresistible and magnetic. But they are. This music is charismatic in the extreme and thoroughly addictive.
Put it this way: if I had heard this album a few months ago, it’d be a contender for my end-of-year top 30.
‘Divulgence’ opens with ‘Apex’ and it is a quiet, understated beginning featuring the symphonic keyboard arrangements of Micić front and centre. It is also a composition which showcases Lalić’s mellifluous clean vocals which are resonant but able on occasion to rival Ragnar Zolberg’s higher, almost feminine-sounding notes. And then the song explodes into grandiose territory where the echoes of Devin Townsend can be heard, full of heavy exuberance. The short intro piece then comes to a close with a delightful vocal melody that emanates from the ashes of a thunderous, earth-shaking note that cannot be ignored.
It has to be said that Lalić’s vocals are one of the biggest strengths to this album. Melodic and sensitive he can be, but in addition, we are treated to spoken-word diatribes, frustration-fueled angst, moments of barely-restrained near-growled territory and soaring passages that lend the music an even greater epic feel.
‘Cinnamon’ is the next track and it is where the full abilities and adventurousness of Organized Chaos comes to the fore. It’d be inaccurate to call it a favourite because that’s a description I could apply to all seven songs. However, it is certainly one of the most striking. Big hooks and clever melodies are blended expertly with any number of different ideas, everything from a quiet acoustic guitar intro to heavy, downtuned riffs, from Latin-esque hand-clapping to funky fusion, led by Kvočka’s wonderfully expressive bass. There is even a brief foray into something vaguely akin to System Of A Down in there somewhere. I even love it when the vocals literally go all ‘mmm bop’ on us. I should hate it, but it’s fabulously wacky, incredibly catchy, and I love it. Even the lyrics are odd, as the following demonstrates:
“Spit all your cinnamon from your mouth on my hair. Cut off my fingertips, they will grow back again.”
And I promise I haven’t paraphrased there – that’s the first line from this bonkers, yet sublime piece of music.
The atmosphere dramatically alters with the arrival of ‘Ache’, which features the first of three guest musicians on the album in the form of a guitar solo from Nick Johnston. ‘Ache’ is a much darker, more brooding beast where the heaviness is dialed down a notch whilst electronic sounds and beats are used liberally, often working brilliantly with some sophisticated drumming from Milan Yeqy Jejina. The aforementioned guest solo is a gorgeously rich and vibrant jazz/fusion affair which sets a tone that’s followed by the rest of the band for a few bars.
However, it is the melodic intent of ‘Ache’ that strikes the biggest chord with me. They really grow to a point where they blossom into something tremendously powerful, burrowing into my brain only to surface as an earworm at the most unexpected of moments.
‘Hide and Seek’ is ushered in with a lovely piano melody and some really great lead guitar work from Lechuga and Lalić, who both impress throughout with their abilities across a range of styles, from heavy and uncompromising to minimalist poignancy seemingly at will. There is the occasional foray into hardcore-meets-djent territory but the most ear-catching thing about it is the extended passages where the vocals and bass take the spotlight. It’s something that crops up a lot within the music on ‘Divulgence’, but it is immediately noticeable here. The vocals and bass work are both more than capable of stepping up on these occasions and they make for fascinating listening as a result.
Fans of Haken can rejoice as none other than Richard Henshall makes the second guest appearance on ‘Broken Divine’ with a killer guitar solo, full of his trademark technical prowess and melodic finesse. This is one of the most varied tracks on a varied album, full of odd vocal effects, tempo and timing shifts, layers of atmospheric keys as well as detours into cinematic climes. Then there are the precise, technical djent-like riffs, intense walls of sound, smatterings of world music and the usual stellar musicianship that manages to pull all of the apparently disparate ingredients into a cohesive composition that is a complete joy to listen to, thoroughly belying its seven-minute-plus length.
Even the sub-two-minute ‘Awake!’ is a must-listen. Essentially an a capella interlude piece, it is essential thanks to the way in which it has been put together with layer upon layer of vocals to create a unique listening experience.
‘Divulgence’ is brought to a close via ‘The Mask’, which features the third and final guest appearance, this time from female vocalist Branislava Podrumac. It is a very welcome addition to a very fitting final song. Intriguingly, it opens in a manner not dissimilar to ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ era Queensryche, which is later reprised. But in addition, the track travels effortlessly from quiet introspection to loud exuberance in the blink of an eye, incorporating a myriad of different influences whilst all the while injecting that trademark Organized Chaos finesse that is evident from the opening moments.
Bearing in mind everything that is going on within this record, it could have ended up as an unholy mess. Instead, thanks to the talent of Lalić and his band of merry men, the music of Organized Chaos lives up to its name. But more than that, it has totally won me over and made me believe wholeheartedly in the musical vision of this band. ‘Divulgence’ is beautiful, adventurous, fresh-sounding and expertly constructed. Forget being in my end-of-year top 30, had I heard this earlier, it would almost certainly be in my top 10. This is incredible music, trust me.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:
Morgan Wick – The Ascent
Aetherian – The Untamed Wilderness
Buried Realm – The Ichor Carcinoma
Almanac – Kingslayer
Von Hertzen Brothers – War Is Over
Witchery – I Am Legion
Cloak – To Venomous Depths
Elvenking – Secrets of the Magick Grimoire
Moonspell – 1755
Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
Communic – Where Echoes Gather
Impureza – La Caida De Tonatiuh
Auđn – Farvegir Fyrndar
Beast In Black – Berserker
Serenity – Lionheart
Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King
Daydream XI – The Circus of the Tattered and Torn
CyHra – Letters To Myself
Devoid – Cup of Tears
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Enslaved – E
Samael – Hegemony
Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Power Quest – Sixth Dimension
Iris Divine – The Static And The Noise
Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord
Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
Anubis Gate – Covered In Black
Protean Collective – Collapse
Cradle Of Filth – Cryproriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Nocturnal Rites – Phoenix
Arch Enemy – Will To Power
Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Adagio – Life
Paradise Lost – Medusa
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
Serious Black – Magic
Leprous – Malina
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems
Tuesday The Sky – Drift
Anthriel – Transcendence
Decapitated – Anticult
Cosmograf – The Hay-Man Dreams
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
Iced Earth – Incorruptible
Anathema – The Optimist
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day