Thrash metal is alive. After years of stagnation and irrelevance, the genre returned in a big way in 2016, with both its elder statesmen (Anthrax, Death Angel, Witchery) and young guns (Vektor, Torrefy, Ripper) dropping stellar albums. For veteran thrash maestros such as yours truly, this marked the first glimmer of hope in quite some time, a light at the end of the tunnel for the genre I hold so close to my heart. Unsure whether 2016’s output was but a flash in the pan or the start of a brave new era, I held my breath for what was to come in the future, hoping beyond hope that the scene’s momentum could carry it into the new year and beyond.
That’s where Chaos fit in. A band with which I was completely unfamiliar until very recently, they immediately caught my attention with a juicy, groove-filled take on Slayer-style aggression. Their only previous release, 2013’s Violent Redemption, is one of the better records I’ve heard from the Indian thrash scene, but not really what I’d call definitive or essential. All Against All, on the other hand, is a different animal entirely. Darker, rawer, and more focused than its predecessor, it’s an audial roundhouse kick to the face and early 2017’s best thrash album.
Above all else, I’ve got to hand it to Chaos for their decision to place quality over quantity. In stark contrast with the bloated, frustrating recent projects put out by Havok and Metallica, All Against All is a tight, 35 minute package that wastes no time and takes no prisoners. It’s clear that Chaos meticulously honed their very best work and trimmed any and all fat from the bone, something truly commendable in this era of overstuffed records. With 10 songs averaging under 4 minutes apiece, it’s thrash as thrash should be, a flurry of aggression with endless replay value. Right out of the gate, “The Great Divide” bursts with vitality, setting the stage for what’s to come without fully divulging the record’s bag of tricks.
Chaos’ primary asset is their ability to write groovy thrash songs without sacrificing a modicum of intensity. “The Inevitable Genocide” and “Indoctrination” may operate at a slightly slower tempo than much of the record, but they feel right at home thanks to an outstanding, royally pissed-off vocal performance and stellar songwriting. Lead vocalist JK brings a hardcore feel to the band’s sound, kicking things into overdrive and matching the instrumental intensity. Of course, with thrashes and grooves must come riffs, and Chaos deliver in spades. Though All Against All doesn’t boast the most technical guitar work in the world, it makes up in sheer vigor what it lacks in complexity.
It would be quite the stretch to label Chaos “saviors of the genre,” but they’re certainly a breath of fresh air after disappointing releases from Power Trip and Warbringer. Though not exactly reinventing the wheel or presenting a new take on thrash metal, All Against All manages to check all the boxes in a runtime barely eclipsing Reign in Blood. If concise, blistering thrash metal sounds like your cup of tea, you’d be crazy not to check this one out. And if doesn’t—well, you’ve got some soul-searching to do.