How’s this for a Fantastic Amazing Trivia Fact: Before this, i’d never heard a Total Chaos record before. I guess they just never really seemed like something i’d be into, plus i was always sort of offended by their name. I mean, isn’t there sort of an unwritten rule of punk band names that, if you use an element of a pre-existing band name, you hafta put your own creative twist on it? Like, i was in a band in the early ‘80s called “Suburban Mutilation,” which isn’t a particularly great name, granted—but still, there were the Suburban Lawns, and a few other Suburban-this’s-and-thats, so “Suburban” was kind of taken as a band name root word—but no one ever used the word “Mutilation” in a band name before, so we put that together with the “Suburban” part and it was kind of acceptable that way. Now, if you take “Chaos” as that same kind of a band name root word that “Suburban” was, there’s been Intensified Chaos, and KAOS, and Kaaos, and Kaos 64, and Chaos U.K. and Chaotic Dischord and who-knows-what-all-else kinds of Chaos in band names, so, to me, “Total Chaos” just doesn’t cut it as far as putting enough of a unique twist on the whole “Chaos” root word to make it an acceptably different variant per our unwritten codes of punk rock handed down through the generations. Quite frankly, “Total Chaos” looks like something that a BBC television producer would tell Vyvyan of the Young Ones to write on the back of his vest, whether he wanted to or not. I’m not sure what that has to do with the record. Anyway, I found the album, on the whole, to be halfway decent. With the exception of a too-slick kick drum sound, i thought the playing and production seemed pretty crisp, with those occasional little melodic street punk guitar noodlings up the neck to keep shit properly perky. I pretty much closed my tab and left the whole U.K. punk thing around 1983, as it seemed like album after album of endless regurgitations of the same thing ((wow, ten more albums that sound just like my Abrasive Wheels album, which already sounds like ten other albums i just got!)), with actual inspiration or innovation long departed for greener pastures; for better or for worse, that era seems to provide substantial inspiration here, with an occasional nod to Discharge-esque poli-minimalism ((“POLITICAL REPRESSION! POLICE STATE! BRUTALITY! POLITICAL REPRESSION! POLICE STATE! BRUTALITY!”)) thrown in for good measure. Lyrically, it’s mainly a guy who knows nothing about politics expressing his rather unoriginal views on politics, which is, to be fair, no great shame in the world of punk rock. I cannot say that this record has rightfully driven me down to the spike and paint store for spikes and paint, but i can say that it beat the spread. BEST SONG: “Delirium” BEST SONG TITLE: “Riot Heart” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Album cover and innersleeve feature multiple photos of a punk getting his head kicked in by cops. I would have liked to have found out more about the specifics of this incident; perhaps on the next record there could be more time spent disseminating information like “why is the punk getting his head kicked in?” and less time spent thanking big-name bands and exotic foreign countries with whom they are intimate.
–norb (Voltage, voltage-shop.com)