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CHAOS CODE

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Chaos Code biography
CHAOS CODE were originally a Baltimore, Maryland-based band that formed in 1997 and included Orion Sound Studios founder Mike Potter, bassist Phil Rous, flautist/guitarist Cliff Phelps, keyboardist Marty Saletta and drummer Mike Farmer. Farmer left the band early to found the prog-metal band ENCOMPASS. This was quickly followed by the exit of Potter, and following the band's debut release, they disbanded. Saletta went on to join the space rock band DARK AETHER PROJECT, while Phelps soon reformed CHAOS CODE with former CEREBRUS EFFECT drummer Patrick Gaffney and AVERTED VISION bassist Gary Curtis. The reformed band's second album, "The Tragedy of Leaps and Bounds" released in 2002, followed by their most recent studio release "Propaganda" in 2005.

The band's music ranges from symphonic to heavy rock to jazz/fusion, and is characterized by strident brass, and biting, sometimes apocalyptic lyrics. Heavy use of mellotron and flute provide a base of 70's-inspired symphonic sound into which the band infuses 80's-influenced post-punk lyrical and percussion sensibilities, and mystic multi-part epics with a decidedly modern tone. The sound spans many moods and can be compared at times to KING CRIMSON, early SALEM HILL, and mid-career JETHRO TULL at times.

CHAOS CODE are a must-have band on the archives due to their complex progressive arrangements, heavy use of keyboards and symphonic instrumentation, and borderline RIO-inspired lyrics.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

Chaos Code official website

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The Tragedy Of Leaps And BoundsThe Tragedy Of Leaps And Bounds
Self-Produced
Audio CD$15.99
$10.98 (used)
A Tapestry Of AfterthoughtsA Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Self-Produced
Audio CD$15.99
$24.79 (used)

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CHAOS CODE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CHAOS CODE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 25 ratings
A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
1999
3.77 | 16 ratings
The Tragedy Of Leaps And Bounds
2002
3.65 | 20 ratings
Propaganda
2005

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CHAOS CODE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.94 | 25 ratings

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A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by MyDarling95

4 stars I consider this album to be a good blend of Neo prog and some Genesis-like sort of thing. Vocals are really nice and the themes are really actual (and will be, as it deals with things like TV overdose, mass production and so). It is really well performed, with elements that any prog lover will be pleased to hear, really!

Pros: +Long songs. +Tempo and style changes. +Some great instrumentals.

Cons: -Artwork doesn't fill me. -In times lenghty passages that I find to be lost.

Veredict: 4 stars. While I really disliked "The Tragedy Of Leaps And Bounds" this one seems to be stronger and better, being that I did no want to hear to this one fearing that it would be like the next one, it isn't! Go and get it if you can and you love some mellow-hard neo prog.

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 Propaganda by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.65 | 20 ratings

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Propaganda
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After a great debut album, I was quite enthusiast to discover this Ŧ Propaganda ŧ affair.

Same sophistication, some fine songs like the hypnotic "The Chameleon" that features some excellent sax works (but not only). Borderline eclectic / symphonic to be honest. But it is true to say that the whole is enjoyable. If each of the following tracks could be of the same vein, I would be delighted.

Even during some short interlude "Calling To Shadows", the music displayed is quite interesting. As I have I said previously, the band delivers a quite complex and rich stuff. Closer to eclectic, frankly.

Like the mysterious and powerful "A New Domination". Sharp riff, heavy feeling: it can be compared with a Sabbath song at times... It is of course more in line with the musical genre praised on this site but the heavy notes are quite OK as far as I'm concerned.

"Chaos Code" is one of the few US bands that I can cope with. I consider this band as superior than "Echolyn" without any problem. They deserve a brighter exposure for sure. None of the tracks featured are weak, and "Saturated" features some great guitar work, which during the solos remind me of the great Carlos.

This is a good album. Not on par with their debut but so superior to the average US production available. At times it sounds too jazzy IMHHO ("The Last Assignment" or "Fortune Cookie Leaflet"). But anyway: seven out of ten. I'll round it down to three stars. One of the most interesting US band in the last decade.

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 A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.94 | 25 ratings

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A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you are looking for some "Genesis" sounds, this band delivers the music from the early days of this prog giant. Of course, the vocal department is not on par (but at least, the singer is not intending to sound as who you know).

Compositions are well crafted and complex enough to raise your interest. As such, the opening song "The Cave" mixes sweet acoustic passages and strong electric ones. Melody is on the rendezvous as well. Actually, this song is very good indeed.

The second one to catch my interest is "Antidote to Entropy": it starts with delicacy but rapidly turns out as a demoniac party with a wild and repetitive guitar riff. I guess that you got the point: KC is close by: all mighty and powerful. At mid time though, one is brought back to a wonderful symphonic rock fantasy: mellotron, flute, acoustic guitar. What a delight! THE highlight.

"PFM" comes to my mind when I listen to "Days of Reflection" (The World Became The World). The same delicacy can be found at times on the vocal side, lush keyboards and such a genuine symphonic feel. This is another very good song from this interesting album. It holds a great guitar closing part as well. Another highlight? For sure!

The tranquility conveyed by this album is again present during "A Silent Scream". The same ingredients are used than during the opener. And I have to say that I quite like the mix again: sweet and acoustic passages (flutes, guitar) which are combined by expressive and skilled keys and electric guitar. This is a fine and bombastic track even if vocals sound a bit flat.

I won't be laudatory about the short "Gravy Fries" which is a noisy affair and could have been avoided. But it should please die-hard KC fans... The same mood opens the longest track of this work. "The Devil's Trombone" is indeed a dark song which can remind the great Scandinavian scene: "Anekdoten" is not far away.

This album is quite good and deserves more exposure on such a site. It offers a wide range of musical pleasure: symphonic, acoustic, melodic, dark, oppressive, peaceful, complex: you name it!

As far as I'm concerned it is one of the best albums released by a US prog band ever. No less! Four stars.

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 A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.94 | 25 ratings

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A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars The songs on A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts (1999) are concerned with themes such as capitalism, technology, modern life and globalisation. In this respect the album has something in common with Radiohead's ''OK Computer'' from a couple of years earlier, although this was probably just a general sign of the times towards the close of the last millennium. Chaos Code's debut is one of those criminally overlooked gems that are always a thrill to discover. Across the board this is a great collection of tracks with DAYS OF REFLECTION being my particular pick of a fine bunch.

Restrained balladry sits happily alongside hard-edged effects-laden guitar work on the likes of A SILENT SCREAM, while soaring flute melodies and Mellotron crescendos struggle with fuzzed-out metal guitar riffs on ANTIDOTE TO ENTROPY. OK, so there's nothing really groundbreaking here and the album culminates with two tracks that seem to borrow heavily from King Crimson. In particular, the ominous Mellotron-brass on THE DEVIL'S TROMBONE is undoubtedly a nod to The Devil's Triangle, while Cliff Phelps' voice is not unlike John Wetton's. Although it's not the most original of albums, I can easily give this one 4-stars.

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 Propaganda by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.65 | 20 ratings

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Propaganda
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was my second Chaos Code album. Some reviewer here said their best is the second but I havenīt heard it yet. However, I do have their first and I can say their sound changed a lot between those two releases. But their ups and downs remain the same. The neo prog elements (dreamy keyboards, dramatic vocals and beautiful guitar solos) are almost totally gone, while a much crunchier, heavy prog, style is adopted for part of the record. So much that the first track, Chameleon (quite fitting tile) starts with a guitar riff that reminds me of the very early Black Sabbath, you just keep waiting to Ozzy to handle the vocals. There is a lot of horns too, which is not very usual for this kind of sound.

From the third track onwards the music begins a slow return to a more progressive approach, plus some jazz rock touches here and there. And thatīs exactly the problem. Although most of the bands I like mix different styles and rhythms, they always come up with something different and that you can identify as their own. Chaos Code on the other side canīt seem to have a personal signature on any of the their works, at least the ones I heard. They are brilliant musicians. They write good tunes. They have good lyrics and a superb and unique singer. But their records sound like different bands playing on each track. I thought this porblem would be fixed by the time they had one or two albums under their belts, but unfortunatly it wasnīt.

Propaganda, like their first, has very strong numbers that you should like it, depending on the style you enjoy. They have everything one band needs to be very big. I really hope they find their own sound soon, or they will be forever a promising band that never seem to fulfill its enormous potential. For now, they are good, but hardly essential in any way. Three stars.

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 A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.94 | 25 ratings

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A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I really donīt know why this band is not labeled as neo prog on this site. Here are the emotional guitar solos a la Steve Rothery, the emotional vocals and the Genesis-like acoustic guitar. But, since neo prog to me is Symphonic rock with more guitar and less pomp, I guess it is alright. This american group is quite good and their debut shows a very strong start. Besides the aforementioned elements they also include some King Crimson parts (listen to the sax, flute and the odd guitar bits) plus a little heavy metal riffs here and there.

After repeated listenings I found that this work shows great promise, no doubt about it. However the mix is still raw as far as I can see. The guys are excellent musicians and their songwriting abilities are above average, but not totally mature: some songs sound too neo prog and others too King Crimson, giving the impression of hearing two different bands playing in one CD most of the time. I donīt mean to be harsh on them. Everybody needs some time to find their own sound and I guess those guys are well on the right way. Besides, Cliff Phelps has an interesting and unique voice that is a little aquired taste, but good anyway. Great production too.

A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts is a bit uneven. It took me quite some time to really enjoy it. But I think it will please most progheads, specially the neo and KC fans. It got me really curious about their follow ups. Iīm looking forward to hear them.

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 A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.94 | 25 ratings

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A Tapestry Of Afterthoughts
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars The debut album from this US band is a pretty much overlooked gem, in my humble opinions.

The first thing that springs into mind is the references to old Cathedral, the US band whose Stained..... album from the 1970s is a masterpiece. The vocals and the quirky melody lines is in that direction. But this album is so, so much more than the quirky world of Cathedral. If I go down the road of pointing out references to the 1970s bands I find on this album, this review will indeed be a very long review. In short, Chaos Code has drawn in references from mostly all 1970s bands and genres on this album. From Genesis to Gentle Giant. From Canterbury to the US eclectic prog scene. The instrumentations and the vocals is also paying homage to all the great bands and scenes. The use of Moog and Hammond gives this album an excellent sound. But Chaos Code has still managed to get their own identity on this album. Which is an great thing.

The quality of the songs is also great. There is no barnstorming killer track here. But the quality is still admiringly high throughout. The best song here is the ten minutes long Days Of Reflection with it's pastoral, but still quirky eclectic melody lines. The rest of this album is only slightly weaker, but only slightly.

I think this is a sadly overlooked album well worth checking out. A solid four stars is my verdict.

4 stars

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 Propaganda by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.65 | 20 ratings

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Propaganda
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Third album of their career named Propaganda from 2005 is natural follow up of previous album , but this time they are even more orientated to eclectic sound, even in places tend to be some crossover moments, but overall sount is defintly eclectic and for sure not symphonic prog. Propaganda is another worthy Chaos Code album, full of intelligent pieces and some amazing prog moments. I don't think this is their best album from the all three, but is close to the second one who I considered the most acomplished and inventive one. Again they have a vintage sound, typical for bands from mid to late '70, in places even some bluesish and psychedelic atmosphere is present like on opening track Chameleon and on New Domination aswell. The longest track from here Last Assignment is a smooth journey in their jazzy psychedelic sound and concludes as one of the best pieces they ever created, nice and elegant pieces. Revising History is another great instrumental tune with with beautiful eclectic guitar who interplay very precise with the spacey keys, one of the best from here. Saturated has some VDGG moments, specialy because of the chaotic sax sound in positive way chaotic, even I trace some Creative Rock atmosphere only with a diffrent voice, who is almost spoken here, nice piece in the end. These are the best pieces from Propaganda, the rest are ok, nothing realy over the top, but pleasent a full of great musicianship all. I will give 4 stars again, more like 3.5 rounded to 4, another great Chaos Code album, but a little bit less convinceing then The tragedy of leaps and bounds, the sound and manner of interpretation is again top notch, intristing and inventive, but I prefere the previous one to be their most mature work and the most inventive one aswell. Still agreat album with a lot to offer, still recommended for the great atmosphere and briliant songwritting as whole.

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 The Tragedy Of Leaps And Bounds by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 16 ratings

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The Tragedy Of Leaps And Bounds
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Chaos Code is in my opinion one of the most underrated bands from this decade from USA. They released so far 3 albums, this one their second release is from 2002 and named The tragedy of leaps and bounds. The line up from this album is almost diffrent from previous work only two members are the same, the guitarist and the singer, but the music remains on the same characteristics as on first album. The music is a nice blend of eclectic moments (definetly not a symphonic prog band in my opinon, at least not in the traditional way we know this genre), some folk moments here and there and even some metal riffs thrown in, to make a special atmosphere. The album is well built with a lot to offer with cruchy metal riffs like on Another hand , I think the best piece from here, a killer track, very well performed and brilliant songwritting, the brass section is present on some pieces, the sax having an important role, but aswell the flute who remind me of Jethro Tull , mid '70's era is intristing combined with the rest. Very well are melted the folky parts with the more rougher moments, intristing and very inventive. What I like in plus is that the band and specialy this album has many instrumental parts, the voice is only here ant there, living space to express themself in the way they know and like. Anyway besides the music, the voice of Cliff Phelps is an aquaring taste, very intristing , quite original and very well melted with the rest. The two instrumentals The creature self and Balance has a nice mood , nice keyboards and even some caribbean feel to it on Balance, is nothing realy special, but was the change the mood of the album, nice track in the end. Sometimes when I'm listing to Chaos Code I have the impression hat this band is from mid to late '70's, the arrangements , the playing, the atmosphere is exactly like bands have in thet period, just listen to A reason to kill (outstanding keyboards arrangements here), maybe only the production and the more modern sound overall betrayed the album. In the end, a very good and intristing band and album, very underrated and with some truly amazing moments, they need a wider recognition because they worth every second. The front cover like the back cover are very intristing and shows ones again that the band were concentrated aswell on visual things like on musical ones. 4 stars easy, one of the most unnoticed albums from this decade, full of great idea and brilliant songwritting and musicianship. Recommended

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 Propaganda by CHAOS CODE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.65 | 20 ratings

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Propaganda
Chaos Code Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars CHAOSE CODE's third release is another thought provoking album with the title giving away the theme.Their web-site gives a detailed definition of what "propaganda" means and then gives quotes from many famous people in history that relates to this subject. All three of their albums have been extremely well thought out lyrically and conceptually. But anyone who knows me knows it's the music itself that matters most, and this one is my least favourite of the three. The first being my favourite. Actually Finnforest gives a really good comparison of the three records in his review of "Propaganda".

"The Chameleon" has such a catchy melody as sax enters the song 3 minutes in. The interplay is fantastic between the sax, drums and guitar on this track. The song reverts back to the original melody after 4 1/2 minutes. "Calling To The Shadows" is a short instrumental with acoustic guitar and trumpet leading the way for a minute and a half before the flute comes in and replaces the trumpet. "A New Domination" might be my favourite track on this record. This is a GENTLE GIANT influenced song that sounds great ! The drumming is outstanding as sax and flute are also used in this tune. I was reminded of RUSH after 6 minutes and the soundscape that follows is amazing.

"The Last Assignment" is the longest song and it opens with a jazzy soundscape.The guitar 4 1/2 minutes in is relaxed and long. Nice. There is a long pastoral interlude of light drums, synths and guitar. Then we are treated to some pleasant guitar melodies before 10 minutes and then the drummer just shows off. Haha. "Revisiting History" is a slower moving song that speeds up instrumentally after 2 minutes. "Saturation" opens with vocals, guitar and drums. The vocals are almost spoken and i'm reminded of ZAPPA here, perhaps even ECHOLYN. "Bacon For Swine" is a short song with what sounds like processed vocals. "Fortune Cookie Leaflet" has some good, tasteful guitar for 3 1/2 minutes and then synths take over as it gets quite spacey the rest of the way. It blends into the next song "In The Revealing Light" which really has the same melody. The final track "Emergence" is really a reprise of the opening song "The Chameleon".

This is really good music but for my tastes it doesn't come close to their debut.There is no mellotron on this one and less vocals than the other two records. 3.5 stars.

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