Gaia - Chaos EP
Connecticut band Gaia share a couple of things in common with Construct Paradise, apart from a home state: both bands graft the mid-range, digitized guitar tones of djent onto the growled verses and sugary choruses of later-era metalcore, placing them somewhere between the two. There’s a touch of post-hardcore in the vocal department and buckets of atmospheric effects, too. Echo, delay, and cavernous reverb are popular choices, enhancing clean passages but conversely sapping some of the heavier sections of their power.
The transition from “Aphelion” to “Eternal Abyss” illustrates that problem right away: “Aphelion” utilizes layers upon layers of pretty guitar and keyboard effects to invoke awe and a dawning sense of adventure, but things take a step back for “Eternal Abyss,” which, while heavy, lacks the bottom-end to deliver the gut-punch Gaia seems to desire after the setup of “Aphelion.” Otherwise, the song is confidently written and works to introduce us to both vocal styles: on one side, the growls, which are aggressive and articulate; on the other, the clean singing, which variously recalls both Kyle of We Came As Romans and Nick of Before Their Eyes. Also on this track is Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King, whose presence is a double-edged sword: his contribution elevates the record, but the song seems a bit out-of-character for Gaia, as if they were writing the track around him instead of the other way around.
Gaia find their footing on “Eradicated” by dialing back the atmosphere and letting the riffwork cut through, in turn maximizing the effectiveness of their ethereal passages. This dynamic is vital to Gaia’s sound, and when executed correctly, can provide its own set of thrills. It’s for this reason that “Chaos” and “Onism” are the very best songs on the EP: the gruff chants to “Welcome chaos!” on the title track are shout-along worthy, and the clean vocals are at their strongest, working some subtle R&B flavor into their anthemic melodies. “Onism” also utilizes some juicy bass guitar plunking to give the song a propulsive sense of rhythm, which meshes wonderfully with this facet of the vocals.
At five tracks, “Chaos” provides little more than a sample of what Gaia has to offer, but fulfills its purpose as an EP. It allows Gaia to demonstrate that they’re more than competent in their genre niche, able to play both sides well, although it would behoove them to flesh out the heavy end a little more on future efforts. Especially on “Eternal Abyss” and “Onism,” the scales can sometimes tip in one direction over another although Gaia show repeatedly that they’re at their best splitting the songwriting down the middle. If they can beef up their heavy side with more distinct riffing and hone their atmospheric predilections, Gaia could really tap into the rich potential that runs through Chaos. We’re looking forward to that!
- Brian L.