Review by Adam on February 15, 2002.
"Natural Born Chaos" is a culmination of years of hard work and evolution for Soilwork containing their most melodic and catchy material to date. It takes where the band was going with "A Predator’s Portrait" one step further with less focus on speed and more on punch. With this release, the band have finally created their own unique sound unlike any other within the extreme metal realm.
After metal fans were bombarded with the all out blistering assault known as "The Chainheart Machine", it was difficult for many to grasp the band’s change in pace for their follow-up. One of "A Predator’s Portraits" most notable faults was the fact that it did not really flow together all that well. As "Chainheart Machine" was mostly consistently thrashy and fast, "A Predator’s Portrait" changed pace with each song, leaving the more speedy numbers to overshadow the more mid-tempo tunes. With "Natural Born Chaos" the tracks have a very nice flow from one to another. For the more intense songs, the thrash drumming has been replaced by a more punchy drum sound which gives these tracks more of a diverse kick rather than that supplied with overused thrash beats.
Another noticeable improvement on this record are the vocals. As many of you know, Devin Townsend helped to produce the record and you can tell by the vocal layering and so forth that he was a great asset to the recording process and overall sound of the release. He also guests on one of the tracks entitled 'Blackstar Deceiver'. The intense vocals sound better as well as do the clean vocals, which are bit higher in occurrence than on they were on their previous effort.
This record still contains basically everything Soilwork have stood for since the beginning of their metal career; melody and intensity. The drum and guitar sounds are very similar to that of "A Predator’s Portrait". The bass and the keyboards are given more breathing room on this release as well. On several occasions the keyboards are actually placed up front for a brief moment which I felt to be a welcome and very pleasant surprise. The production on this cd is absolutely flawless.
Overall, this is another very solid effort from Soilwork. If you liked "A Predator’s Portrait", you will absolutely love "Natural Born Chaos". Especially those fans who loved the bonus track to that record 'Asylum Dance' which was the most catchy and melodic songs the band had recorded up to that point. Some may be a bit put off by the increase of clean vocals, yet in the end they create a nice balance, however are still very much belittled by the much improved intense vocals. This is not the same hellraising speed oriented Soilwork we knew from "The Chainheart Machine", but a constantly evolving band putting above all else quality, melody, and intensity. Soilwork have created another heavy metal masterpiece with "Natural Born Chaos" sure to be one of the greatest metal releases of 2002. This is star making material right here!
Bottom Line: Soilwork fans will totally eat this up, yet if you have never really gotten into them in the past then this is a great place to start.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 10 out of 10