Order From Chaos

And I Saw Eternity

United States Country of Origin: United States

And I Saw Eternity
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Type: EP
Release Date: 1996
Label: Ground Zero Entertainment
Genre: Black, Death
1. The Edge Of Forever
2. Webs Of Perdition
3. Imperium
4. De Stella Nova

Review by Carl on November 26, 2023.

If you would ask me to point out just one band that completely deserves to be labelled 'cult' (or 'kvlt' if you don't mind looking like a moron), I'd point to Order from Chaos for sure. Or Divine Eve. Or Canadian thrashers Slaughter. Or even hardcore band Septic Death. But for the sake of this review, it's Order from Chaos.

Known primarily as the band where Pete Helmkamp started his career, I always had the idea that their name never really gets the recognition they so deserve. Being one of the old school outfits with a sound totally their own, it's not that easy to label them, because they could fall in both the black metal as death metal categories, and in a scene where everything is so neatly fenced off these days, that seems to be kinda difficult to grasp. Too bad, because any which way you turn it, Order from Chaos remains a brilliant act, no matter what label you stick on 'em.

So, as mentioned, describing them isn't all that easy. Taking elements from albums like Venom's "Welcome to Hell", Sodom's "Persecution Mania", Bathory's "Blood, Fire, Death", Celtic Frost's "To Mega Therion" and Voivod's "War and Pain", without specifically sounding like either one of them, the band crafts their brand of death/black metal. The one aspect that jumps out immediately is, of course, the rasping, leathery croak of Pete Helmkamp, just as we know him from Angelcorpse and Abhomine. His voice determines a big part of the music, but looking further than that, there are the inventive and rich and heavy sounding guitars of Chuck Keller, a man in whose style the early techniques of Voivod's Piggy have been turned into murky and dark sounding death metal riffs. It's around these riffs that the distorted bass rumblings of Helmkamp coil themselves, not following the riff patterns laid out by Keller, but playing his own variations on these, kinda like a black/death metal version of what Lemmy did in Motörhead. This solid pairing of guitar and bass is underpinned by the pounding percussion of Mike Miller, driving the songs forth with a straight-forward but powerful performance. The band does not go insanely fast, but rather alternates between uptempo propulsion and midtempo stomp, simply exuding remorseless power throughout. They've got the chops, and they deliver it with steel-plated power, crafting a monolithic slice of beyond sturdy metal in the process.

Now, while I'm totally on board with the band and their output, I can't help but wonder why this EP came to be. Two of the four tracks appear (in different versions sometimes) on earlier releases, while the other two consist out of an instrumental and a droning soundscape. In my opnion this makes for an odd mix, but the quality on offer wipes away any doubt that there may be, the double opening salvo of "The Edge of Forever" and "Webs of Perdition" alone more than justifies this EP's existence. Let's check it out, shall we?

Proceedings kick off with "The Edge of Forever", that also featured on the "Stillbirth Machine" full length. This opener is book-ended by an intro and outro (taken from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey") consisting of droning voices and sparse instruments layered on top of each other, creating an unnerving snowstorm of voices, building up tension until a schizophrenic guitar riff and venomous croak gives way to a battering dose of heavy death metal with a slight dissonant edge to it, while Pete's vocals give the powerful music a blackened touch. Alternating between battering aggression and double kick driven stomp, Order from Chaos plows through this track keeping it heavy and dense throughout, all the way to the point where the layered voices pick it up again to lead us out. This is followed by the banger "Webs of Perdition", proving that 'groove' does not have to be a dirty word, as long as you deliver it as twisted as the band does here. Completed by dissonant guitar leads being in a stranglehold with the coiling bass, proceedings are mercilessly being driven forward by the beefed up d-beats of Miller, adding a kind of early Hellbastard-ish vibe to the already powerful death/black metal melange. It's these two tracks that make this EP for me, combining technical prowess with unforgiven power, and twisted atmosphere with excellent composition, all wrapped up in an equally powerful and natural soundmix. True brilliance, for sure!

After that comes the instrumental "Imperium", that also exhibits the inventive riffs with a dissonant edge, with the distorted bass that seems to dance around the guitars, and again underpinned by a percussive performance that keeps it simple but absolutely solid, but missing the vocals and being simpler in composition, it's not as captivating as the powerhouse duo of songs that preceded it. The following album closer "De Stella Nova" is a dark ambient noisescape built up by droning waves of electronics layered on top of each other, without any guitars, drums or vocals being involved. It's a piece of aural architecture so to speak, and it brought the things like Klaus Schulze's 70's output, Tangerine Dream albums like "Zeit" and "Phaedra", and at times early Throbbing Gristle to mind. It's perhaps not the best example of what dark ambient can be, but I can still dig this. I even wish it would've lasted longer.

The first two tracks say it all for me on this release, being masterfully crafted slabs of powerful death metal with a blackened touch to it, but if I was to recommend any Order from Chaos, I'd say to start with "Stillbirth Machine" and to work your way from there to the rest of their output, because that stuff is more than worth the effort of searching out. Their music still sounds as relevant today as it did back then, and as a band they were in a league completely their own, and for this they do deserve more respect than they get, in my opinion.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10