Divine Chaos – Chris O’Toole interview, March 2015

 

Divine Chaos – A New Dawn in the Age of War

After a blistering performance in Dublin and a glowing album review from fellow PlanetMosher Scott, a chat with  Divine Chaos was an absolute must-do for our team. The UK quintet are on a brutal quest to reinvigorate the thrash scene with their latest offering ‘A New Dawn in the Age of War‘ and below is our interview with lead guitarist Chris O’Toole.

For the uninitiated reading this interview, can you tell us about Divine Chaos?

We’re a 5 piece modern thrash outfit from the UK, comprising aggressive riffs, fast drums, guitar solos complemented by some techy bits.

Your debut full length album ‘A New Dawn In The Age Of War’ was released on Evil Eye Records towards the end of last year. Was there an overall theme to the disc and how has it been received?

The overall theme of war is explained in the title but each song is specific its own subject, otherwise lyrics can tend to meander and get repetitive, for example Perpetual War Policy is about profit driven war for arms manufacturers and how they benefit from the demise of others and influence governmental decisions, Rivers of Blood despite the Enoch Powell reference is about massacres and mass suicide in war time such as the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. The album has been well received to date and is regarded as a major step up in all area’s from our last release ‘Every Empire Will Fall’ which can be ordered here: http://evileyerecords.net/release/everyempirewillfall/

I recently saw you performing in The Voodoo Lounge, Dublin where you were supporting Sodom. You played two dates (including a sold out Underworld show in London) with the thrash masters. How were the gigs?

First off, thanks for taking the time to catch our set. We’ve played The Underworld quite a few times with some amazing bands in the past but I think the Sodom show was everyone’s favourite show at The Underworld so far. We were the only support band for the show so we had time to get everything right from a setup perspective and also had the audience’s undivided attention when we hit the stage. The Sodom crowd were definitely the right crowd for us. Dublin was equally as killer, it was our third time in Dublin but first time at the Voodoo lounge, a brilliant sounding venue, awesome sound on stage and by the end the crowd were fully on board with our brand of Thrash Metal. Sodom were great guys to play with, they all took the time to say hi and hangout, hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.

On stage, I got a great camaraderie vibe from your performance. You seem to really enjoy what you do. What does it mean to you to be in a band especially in these lean economic times?

There really is no choice for us, we’re not the kind of guys that are happy to just listen to and watch metal bands and be fans of it, we are compelled to write and perform so I suppose the financial side of it is just an inconvenience, it’s a limiting factor but that’s about it. The industry has changed but we love all facets of being in a band and we are grateful to everyone that helps us out in any way, from people who buy our merchandise to promoters and booking agents such as Factory Music. I suppose ultimately by being a band it means we can put our own stamp on the thing we love and create songs that we would want to hear ourselves, it’s a release to us to be able to do that and you can’t put a price on that.

In a world where a lot of lead singers are very static and almost apologetic to be up front, Benny is very energetic and larger than life when you play. Was this natural or does he draw inspiration from watching other performers from music and beyond (WWE perhaps?)?

You’ve hit the nail on the head there, Ben is a massive WWE fan, we played a show once and he started doing some of the trademark WWE stuff and it went down well so he’s just kept it going, he always talks about the entertainment aspect of wrestling so I think he’s incorporated his animated on stage behaviour from that either knowingly or not. We all strive to make our live shows as exciting as possible for the audience.

The UK is undergoing a lot of political change with more hardline parties beginning to gain a level of popularity. In the age of war, does Divine Chaos have any reflections on what is happening in the UK?

The music for the album was written over a year ago so recent events haven’t really snuck into the lyrical content of our music. To us all the political parties are flawed, we don’t have much faith in the system as it is, I can’t see any of the hardline parties getting into power, people generally play it safe when it comes to elections so the conservatives will probably be back in. The risk is as these hardline parties get more support the mainstream parties start adopting their shitty policies to win votes. There’s no real answers to any of it but there has to be a better way for the human race to function, than the shameful selfish way we all live our lives. I guess the only plus side is that this shameful political situation provides good fodder for metal lyrics!

Thrash metal enjoyed a ressurgence about a decade ago but it was short lived and a lot of the older bands rose to the challenge of the new era bands. Do you think it’s time for a change in the natural order of things? Who do you rate out of the current crop of new bands in this genre?

A lot of the older bands you refer to I suppose come from a time when thrash metal was way bigger than its ever been, the resurgence didn’t come close to how things were in the 80’s and 90’s so the older bands are always going to have that edge coming from such an era. I think its definitely time for a change but the industry has changed so much that comparing the past to the future is irrelevant now, people turn to the older acts because they are established, it’s a lot harder to establish yourself as an act now so less bands tend to persevere. I think it will be interesting in about 20 years across the whole industry when all the bands riding off the success of the past industry model have called it a day. I think only then we’ll know what worked and what didn’t and perhaps create a new model or models for the future survival of the industry. Until then I think bands will pop up and do well here and there but as for a big surge in popularity among the more recent bands I think it a long way off, hopefully I’m wrong though.

What bands have influenced Divine Chaos on this musical journey?

Testament, Seputura, Metallica, Death, Carcass, Symphony X, The Haunted, Nevermore, Exodus, Slayer, Pantera. Everyone in the band has their own things they’re into though. Our singer Ben likes a lot of punk and hardcore, our drummer James likes death metal, jazz fusion, black metal and prog so we try and cram it all in if we can!

James Stewart is also the drummer for Vader. Does this have impact what you can do as a touring band?

Vader is James’ priority but they have things well organised and he’ll get his schedule way in advance so we just plan around it. If shows come up that are too good to miss though we have friends we can call on such as James Cook from Malefice/Ex Anterior who’s filled in for a number of shows including our show with Xentrix last year.

Would you care to share any details on upcoming shows or summer festivals?

Lots of shows are currently being sorted that we can’t announce yet but you can catch us at Titanfest in London on the 30th of May! Click on this link for ticket information: http://titanfest.uk/t.php?r=16

Speaking of the current music scene; how is the state of the world in London? Are there any bands you care to name check that you may have threaded the boards with that we might not be familiar with but you rate highly?

A lot of bands have come and gone from the scene, we’re not hugely up to date with the scene in London these days but Metastasis are doing well and are a cool bunch of guys. I was impressed with Animator who we played with at the Voodoo Lounge last week too.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Finally, where can people get their grubby mits on your debut opus?

Our labels webstore is always stocked up so head over to Evil EyE Records website: www.evileyerecords.net or grab a copy at one of our shows! Also for those of you in Dublin I think you can pick it up at Tower records & Sound Cellar. Many thanks to anyone who does, we really appreciate the support.

Read the PlanetMosh review of ‘A New Dawn in the Age of War’ here:

https://planetmosh.com/divine-chaos-a-new-dawn-in-the-age-of-war/

Check our Divine Chaos here:

https://www.facebook.com/divinechaosband?ref=br_rs

About Steve D

Dublin based editor, photographer and reviewer for PlanetMosh