May 22, 2020 Beauty in Chaos – The Storm Before the Calm (Album Review)
Gnarled musical conglomerate Beauty in Chaos returns with The Storm Before the Calm, a new album set for release on Friday, May 22nd (World Goth Day) through 33.3 Music Collective. Helmed by New Orleans native Michael Ciravolo, a guitarist now based in Los Angeles, and joined by Producer/Multi-instrumentalist Michael Rozon, Beauty in Chaos broke onto the scene in the fall of 2018 with Finding Beauty in Chaos, followed by a remix album, Beauty Re-Envisioned a year later.
The Storm Before the Calm marks a bit of a departure from the unit’s debut; where Finding Beauty in Chaos featured caustic tracks such as “Un-natural Disaster” and brash contributors like dUg Pinnick (King’s X, KXM), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), and Ice-T, The Storm Before the Calm has a paradoxically quieter tone. Still, prior contributors Ashton Nyte, Wayne Hussey, and Michael Ashton reappear for this second album, joined by fresh blood like Curse Mackey and Rafe Pearlman.
The album begins with “The Outside,” a track which mixes the enigmatic vocals of Ashton Nye with a thick, murky bass line that brings Dark Wave bands to the mind of listeners; the clean guitar tracks that pepper the revolutions of the chorus add a bit of Doom Metal and Ambient Metal. Rafe Pearlman adds some off-kilter vocal magic to “Temple of Desire,” a song that also straddles multiple genres, like Prog Metal, Ambient Metal, and New Wave, even Rock-n-Roll. The thumping bass line returns with “The Delicate Balance of All Things,” the first single off this album. One which features tense, fervent vocals, delivered in an eerily calm manner by Wayne Hussey, known for his work with Sisters of Mercy and The Mission; his quiet delivery of the track’s title is especially moody and haunting.
Sweeping keyboards lift and lower “Almost Pure,” which is led by Steven Seibold of Hate Dept. This is while calm, soft tones and the somber vocals of Kat Leon carry “Stranger” across a sonic blanket of weeping guitar and delicate piano; in particular, the chorus of “is this what you wanted? half-alive and haunted? … I’m a stranger … to myself,“ is a frank, fearless admission that also keenly doubles as a statement of identity and self-reliance.
Elsewhere, Curse Mackey of Pigface lends his talent to the fast pace of “A Kind Cruelty;” the track was released as the album’s second single (and accompanying video) and emerges as the most approachable piece of the collection. The video shows the band working in a dim, candle-lit space, whole Mackey opines: “It’s a kind cruelty/ delicate and damaging/ brutality of beauty.” As with other tracks, the strong, punchy bass line provides a steady rock around which the rest of the musicians weave in and out of focus.
Digital and CD versions of the album feature the sweeping title-track, which presumably did not fit on the vinyl editions. Largely an instrumental venture, the track continues some of the more esoteric guitar work. This is particularly the case with opening of tracks like “The Delicate Balance of All Things” which almost serves as an album on its own. Ciravolo begins by supplying sparse but poignant guitar licks of a quiet industrial marsh, before vocal samples, piano, bass, and drums take the stage. After a cacophony of fuzz and distortion, mezzo-soprano Adrienne Lavey adds soaring vocals slightly past the midway point, before the track, and the album as a whole, spends the rest of its time fading away into oblivion.
The Storm Before the Calm could almost have switched album titles with its predecessor, as Finding Beauty in Chaos was a bit louder in comparison. Regardless, the excellent stable of vocalists and musicians combine well with the stern work of the two Michaels, Ciravolo and Rozon. This leaves The Storm Before the Calm as a firm testament to the direction the Beauty in Chaos project is taking. As such, Cryptic Rock gives this excellent new album 4.5 out of 5 stars.