March 23, 2006

CD Review: The Best of Taste of Chaos

The Taste of Chaos tour sucked down its first breath of air last year when the first incarnation hit the road with the likes of A Static Lullaby, Opiate for the Masses, Underoath, The Used, and Killswitch Engage. It was a tour that brought together the worlds of metal, screamo, and hardcore under one roof. The second tour is currently underway with As I Lay Dying, Story of the Year, Atreyu, Thrice, and Deftones. This disk collects some of the best tracks from 36 bands that have graced the stage from both tours. It doesn't cover all of them, but there is a lot of music here!

Like I said in my reviews of the 2006 concert incarnation, the live DVD of the initial tour, and the live CD of the same tour, much of this music isn't quite to my taste. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and there is a lot to like spread across these two disks. If you don't mind, I am going to hit my highlights from the disks.

Disk one starts off strong, trying to win me over to their side with The Used's "Sound Effects and Overdramatics." It is a strong screamo entry which is effective in it's switches between screaming and more gentle singing. It is followed by a song that really didn't do much for me, but has one of the best titles I have ever heard, "I've Got Ten Friends and a Crowbar that Says You Won't Do Jack" by Underoath.

Matchbook Romance slows things down with their acoustic "In Transit for You." It's a nice switch from the more in your face manner that the prior songs were presented, it provides another face to this end of the music. Besides, I'm a sucker for acoustic rock. Also bringing another flavor to the table is Billy Talent with "Red Flag," a previously unreleased track. The song reminds me a like a quirky Green Day track. There is something about it that I found to be catchy, something akin to a virus. The next track to grab me doesn't really stand out, but it reminded me of some of Offspring's older material and it is a fun bouncy track, that is "Give it All" by Rise Against.

Leaning towards the hardcore/metal edge is Fear Before the March of Flames with "Should Have Stayed in the Shallows." They were the first band of this set to really veer to the more metallic flavorings. Guttural vocals and a galloping riff draw me in, kind of like Slayer crossed with some of these younger hardcore/screamo acts. They are paired perfectly with Dark New Day and their cut, "Pieces." They aren't quite as primal as Fear, but the guitars have a clear metal sound, while the singing is more emo, and it works quite well for this metal guy.

The first disk closes with what is probably the most abstract of the bands represented on this set and this tour, and it is an interesting performance piece. The band is Street Drum Corps and their song is "Flaco 81." The best way I can describe them is the Blue Man Group after exchanging their PVC piping for drums, the blue paint for day-glo and eschewing their smooth music flows to a more raw drum groove. Interesting to say the least, this makes me mad that I missed them live.

Disk two starts off strong, very strong. I daresay that this disk has the best tracks of the set, and they all seem to be clumped together at the beginning of this disk.

The first track is "Burn it Down" by Avenged Sevenfold, which have quickly gained a new fan in me. I recently started listening to them, and they have this great 80's metal sound updated to modern relevancy. This track is a great example of their sound, and a great way to kick off this disk. It is followed by the band that put out one of my favorite albums of 2005 with The End of Heartache, they are Killswitch Engage and their song here is "Rose of Sharyn." They are relentlessly heavy and a great addition of the upcoming young metal scene.

Continuing the string of metallic hits is Deftones with "Bloody Cape." I am not as big a fan of theirs as I used to be, but this is a surprisingly heavy song. I guess I would have to say that Chino's ambient vocals loose me at times and seem to draw away some of the bands energy. Still, this is a good song. We move from ambient metal to hardcore with Every Time I Die's "Kill the Music." Not one of my favorites, but it blends in well with these other heavy hitters of which I am a fan. They do have some nice rhythm work here.

We're still going straight through the track listing of disk 2. We have reached Shadows Fall, who I didn't even know played this tour, with "Enlightened by the Cold." They are another fine example of the up and coming heavy, along with Killswitch Engage. Following them is a band that did not impress me much when I saw them on Gigantour last year, but hearing this track makes me almost want to revisit them, the band is Dillinger Escape Plan and the song is "Unretrofied." The song seems surprisingly heartfelt and dragged me, kicking and screaming, into its groove. So far we have opened with 6 straight tracks to like, how long can it keep up?

Yes, we can keep it going, this disk is much more directed towards metal, and that is always a good thing for me. Bleeding Through offers up "On Wings of Lead" which is from the guttural growl school of metal. OK, the streak is up at seven as the next song, from Funeral for a Friend, really didn't do anything for me.

The next song to drag me in is track 12, "Heaven" by Opiate for the Masses. They have some interesting drumming, and some quick guitars. They sort of remind me of Tool and Nine Inch Nails, not at their level, but the influence is there. A couple of tracks later is The Smashup with "Effigy." I have heard these guys full CD, and they are pretty good, they have a sound which tries to stand out, and this is a good example of their music.

Closing in on the end of the disk, we have Most Precious Blood with "Shark Ethic." They are a hardcore act out of Brooklyn, NY, and regularly played the clubs in my area. Unfortunately, I never went to see them, but now I wish I did. This is a good song, I love the riffing at work. The disk draws to a close with Japan's Dir en Grey with "The Final." They have an interesting atmospheric, gothic sound that seems to be at odds with the other bands here. I liked it a lot, and plan on checking them out when I can.

That brings us to the end of this massive collection. There is a lot of music to absorb here. Although it sounds like one band at times, I am sure you will be surprised by the actual variety here, there is more than I would have expected. Disk two clearly wins me over and will be the first I reach for. The predominance of metal draws me like a moth to a flame.

Recommended. *** / *****

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