What do you get when a bunch of long-haired Jesus freaks from Oklahoma plug in their equipment...after injecting said equipment with a shot of nitrous? You get the tornado of sound that is the new album by Chaotic Resemblance!
History of Chaos
I (Steve) was first introduced to Chaotic Resemblance when they played as one of the opening acts at Rocktoberfest in 2016, a night of blistering rock that included Petra, Whitecross, and Stryper, and I was instantly hooked. I heard them again that summer at Kingdom Come Fest and was fortunate to interview them before Wildman and I ever met. Since then, we have been blessed to have the guys on our show, which you can check out here. We have always been impressed by the fierce witness of these guys. Their music is incredible, but they would be just as happy to sit down and share Jesus with you from the pages of Scripture as they would playing to a sold-out crowd.
The New Album
We have said many times on our show that rock is a visual art as well as a musical one, and the album cover of Nazarites lives up to what one would expect from a bunch of leather-wearing, long-haired Jesus freaks whose blistering stage shows give you whiplash as you bang your head. Yet, for all that, this is about the music, so let's jump into it.
Track 1: Wrath of the Lamb
This is not for the faint of heart. The first 35 seconds build like a sonic tsunami with thundering drums, bass, guitar, and a growing vocal scream. The guys never fail to present Jesus as He is, not the sanitized, shrink wrapped, safe version that is peddled in too much media today. If you think "wrath" and "lamb" are odd words to combine, then listen to this biblically based song and you will see why they are the perfect pairing. Oh, and when the sound turns dark about halfway through, well, that's just a special treat unto itself.
Track 2: Driven
A slow, chugging bass opens the next number, and you think you might get a moment to catch your breath, because, let's face it, that opening track will wear you out just listening to it. If it's slow and easy you want, forget about Chaotic. "I'm driven, I'm livin' by the fear of the Lord. I'm livin', I'm driven by the fear of the Lord. Compelled to avail by the fear of the Lord. Expel all hell!" So starts lead singer Travis McConnell, and by the time THAT fifteen seconds is finished, you know you'd best be on your game if you want to keep up. Fast, fierce, and yet with a dark, chugging foundation, this song has its musical roots in the '90s and its lyrical roots in a life transformed by Christ.
Track 3: Passover Prophecy
Consider this a fair warning. You need to train if you want to listen to this album, because you will be assaulted relentlessly. Another thick wall of sound built and woven by L.A. Ellis on guitar, Travis McConnell on bass, and James Stohlhammer on drums confronts you as McConnell comes in with a slightly lighter vocal melody. Now, don't let the word "lighter" scare you away. If this song is light, then the "Dies Irae" of Mozart's Requiem is a pop tune by the Bangles. And can we say drums? We all need to start a GoFundMe to help these guys replace what has to be a drum kit left in tatters. John Bonham would be proud.
Track 4: Quick and the Dead
What is this, the opening to an Old West movie? You would think so through the first nineteen seconds, and then you realize this is some kind of mix between gunslinger swagger and Detroit sheet metal worker hammer pounding. Once again there is a hint of '80s melodic metal, but it is so heavily cloaked in leather and metal that no one could confuse it with White Lion. "Are you baptized in the red?" These guys ask the question that everyone must answer, and I have to say, if I saw them walking down the streets of Tombstone asking this of bystanders, I would be quick to say yes!
Track 5: The Nazarite
More sonic pounding from a coordinated attack of bass, drums, and guitar blasts your ears from the opening note. "No compromise! We are your Nazarites! No compromise, we're set apart, we live our lives with burning hearts!" If you know CR at all, then you know this should be their theme song. The guys live what they sing. They are utterly uncompromising when it comes to living, preaching, and teaching the gospel of Jesus, and in case you're wondering what the word "Nazarite" is all about, you can check it out in the Old Testament book of Numbers 6:1-21. And in case you were wondering again, the song ends as it began, with an instrumental tour de force that would make Jimmy Page sit up and take notice.
Track 6: Altar
At last, a breather. "Altar" starts with acoustic...yes, acoustic...guitar, and a soft vocal from McConnell, yet there is an intensity that electrifies the song and makes it undeniably part of the CR catalogue. Barely a minute in, however, and we're back to a full metal attack. A classic guitar solo takes us to new heights in the latter third, making this perhaps the most traditional song on the album, but again, this is not your mom's or dad's metal. This is heavily aggressive stuff, even as it returns to its acoustic opening toward the end.
Track 7: Hosanna
What? TWO acoustic songs in a row? Have the guys decided to explore their inner Simon & Garfunkel? "How deep do the stripes need to be? How much blood can the Son of God bleed? 'No one takes my life from me. I lay it down willingly. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die.' Hosanna in the highest! Son of David, Son of God! God with us! God in us.! Jesus Christ, the risen One!" Paul Simon never sang words like these. This is my kind of worship song. Acoustic, yes. Sappy, saccharine, sentimentality...not even close.
Track 8: Fairest Jesus
I was SO excited when I realized that this brutal single from 2021 was part of this album! I had reviewed the song when it came out at that time, so you can read all about it here. Suffice it to say, I title that post "Bullet Train of Ferocity" for a reason!
Track 9: Surrender
The boys must have bought some new drums to destroy on this one. This is pure, urban, concrete brutality wrapped in a guitar with barbed wire strings. Pull out your best over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones to get the full effect of this, and while you're at it, thank me for writing this post. It was all I could do to keep typing while listening to this and not jump up, bang my head, and scream as if I were in a mosh pit.
Track 10: Unto the Lamb
"You and You alone are worthy! There's only one King Who sits on the throne! There's only one Lamb Who's worthy to open the scroll, Jesus Christ, the son of the LIVING God!" Following these in-your-face lyrics is a rat-a-tat-tat coordinated drum and guitar raid on your eardrums. With this song and all the others, you have the sense that the guys have cornered you, surrounded you, and with the intensity of a thousand blazing suns have confronted you as agents of the God of the universe.
We are huge Chaotic Resemblance fans, but this is not just fanboy talk here. This album is their best to date. It is coherent musically from start to finish, and the production is outstanding. There is plenty of space for each instrument and vocal to come through, and the result is a truly fantastic album that needs to be in your collection.