AMN Reviews: Chaos Echoes with Mats Gustafsson – Sustain (2018; Utech Records)

Mats Gustafsson is like salt – you can add him to almost anything and the outcome gets a flavorful boost. Here, he joins French death-metal group Chaos Echoes for a pair of long-form tracks. The latter outfit consists of guitarists Kalevi Uibo and Fabien W. Furter, bassist Stefan Thanneur, and drummer Ilmar Uibo. Previous releases by this quartet would be what you would expect from their genre – fast, loud, heavy, and aggressive. But on Sustain, they instead focus on atmospherics and slowly-moving textures. Eschewing stereotypical riffing, the group goes more in a direction pioneered by Sunn O))) – giant slabs of distorted sound. Gustafsson joins in with sax drones and free-jazz wailing.

Spellbound is an ominous trek through a shattered landscape. Ilmar Uibo provides a constant stream of improvisation to keep the momentum building, while Gustafsson’s discordance introduces a sense of urgency. The track ends with Gustafsson blurting out an increasingly strident series of twisted cries over busy snare work and a distorted wall of noise. Harvest of Souls begins with punctated riffing and plaintive sax notes backed by a pounding rhythm. Guitar drones and harmonics join in, as well as effects-laden bass. Gustafsson’s contributions become agitated over time, like a growing madness. After a brief interlude around the 10-minute mark, the mayhem continues with improvised sax keening to an abrupt conclusion.

This recording will be available on April 13 from Utech Records.