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Chaos Code

Symphonic Prog

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Chaos Code Propaganda album cover
3.62 | 35 ratings | 6 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chameleon (6:36)
2. Calling to Shadows (2:17)
3. New Domination (9:06)
4. Last Assignment (13:03)
- Failure System One :
5. Revising History (4:11)
6. Saturated (5:01)
7. Bacon for Swine (1:13)
8. Fortune Cookie Leaflet (5:33)
9. In the Revealing Light of Betrayal (2:27)
10. Emergence (4:21)

Total Time: 53:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Cliff Phelps / guitars, flute, Fender Rhodes, synths, vocals
- Barry Caudill / tenor sax
- Gary Curtis / bass
- Patrick Gaffney / drums

- Jose Silva / lead guitar (6), backing vocals (1,3,10)
- Dave Makowiecki / trumpet (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Matthew Pumphrey

CD Chaos Code Productions ‎- CC 103 (2005, US)

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CHAOS CODE Propaganda ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

CHAOS CODE Propaganda reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch

During the last few days I listened to many different albums from multiple genres ranging from rare seventies prog like RAGNAROK, CONVENTUM or JAN DUKES DE GREY to recent innovative progmetal ones like ISIS, KAYO DOT or SECRET CHIEFS 3. But I couldn't say that any of those ones fascinated me as much as did CHAOS CODE's third output. It's definitely their most mature and professional work so far. Though being deeply rooted in early seventies hard prog with their style none of the tracks is sounding derivative at all but rather fresh. It's hard to name any band they sound like because there isn't or wasn't just any. Closest comparison coming to my mind would be ECHOLYN (a band I love as well), but more due to the similarity of the voices. Some influences like VDGG which is one of my top favs certainly could be mentioned, especially on account of the heavy use of brass. The production quality here became much better than on the previous releases as well the art work which is rather provocative.

The album starts right from the beginning very powerful with "The Chameleon" which is an progressive heavy rocker dominated by guitar and horns especially in its second half. The short instrumental piece "Calling to Shadows" serves as a kind of interlude and is putting the mood more towards a relaxed and calm atmosphere with acoustic guitar, sax and finally some nice flute. But "New Domination" is raising the energy level again with heavy guitars reminding to early Sabbath and VDGG-alike brass combined with short keyboard sections in between. "Last Assignment" with 13 minutes + the longest track is dominated by a superb rhythm section and keyboards in its first part before guitar is taking over and alternating with great keyboard sections. This one has been very nicely placed in the track order after the quite heavy first and third one and is a welcome opportunity to calm down a bit. It's an absolute highlight of the album with nice melodies which are still quite memorable despite of the high complexity. The instrumental one "Revising History" starts atmospheric with dreamy and spacey synths before an awesome intricate guitar and drum play sets in. "Saturated" is a very furious track with quite aggressive vocals, heavy guitars and brass. This one goes without any break into the short "Bacon for Swine". "Fortune Cookie Leaflet", again an instrumental track with great guitar, drums and sax closing with spacey synth sequences is certainly another highlight. "In the Revealing Light of Betrayal" continues with keyboards and guitar and is again a sort of interlude cross-fading directly into the final track which picks up again the main theme from the opener and closes the circle like this in a very nice way.

Needless to mention that apart from composition, songwriting and musicianship their lyrics are absolutely top notch and extremely critical, thought- and meaningful. Everybody who was still uncertain about this band after their first two albums should be convinced that CHAOS CODE is one of the best (less known) bands nowadays after listening to this one. Unless many newer bands in Symphonic Progressive they don't sound at all just like a blueprint of famous seminal ones. For me there isn't any doubt left that it deserves nothing else than the full score. I just can tell to anyone looking for some really great music to not miss this one!

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Propaganda" Are power structures like government, religion, and corporations selling the lies that might eventually tank the human race? And as the complacent masses are we complicit in our demise? That might be one take on the concepts laid out in the hugely ambitious 3rd release by Chaos Code, one of the most exciting prog band currently in the States. Will we wake up in time?

Chaos Code's first two albums are so impressive that I figured the 3rd would either be a letdown or a sellout. Wrong on both counts. CC has raised the stakes across the board and "Propaganda" seems to be an attempt to reach a wider audience and really freak them out. Or as I said, at least WAKE US UP! Well guys, I'm listening!

Cliff Phelps is back leading Pat Gaffney and Gary Curtis, a powerful disciplined rhythm section for Phelps to lay his ominous riffs over. The keys have been somewhat dropped for a new presence here, Barry Caudill's sax which takes a very active lead role in many places throughout and sometimes reminds me of Supertramp's "Brother Where You Bound" sound. If you love the saxophone this is going to be your favorite CC album. The production and overall sound are much more big league on this release, and the playing seems to get more interesting all the time. The material is darker and harder edged making Propaganda something of interest to the Prog-Metal fans here though it certainly isn't metal. Cliff's vocals are much more confident, prominent, and prevalent. He also gets some harmony help on this one from Jose Silva.

Phelp's again writes nearly all of the material and returns with his beautiful one moment/ferocious the next moment electric guitar on most tracks. Sax, synth, and flute all add to a wide array of different soundscapes which patiently lead us through this story.

Viewing the cover only one might think it silly to show ants attacking a big city. But when the insert is unfolded to all 3 panes, there is an extremely clever series of photos and paintings which help shed light on the themes. And they are provocative as mentioned by Dieter.

So where to start with Chaos Code? Anywhere. I would say if you like dreamier more Floydian landscapes with more solos start with the first album and go forward. If you like more constructed songs with vocals, a harder edge, brass, and more animated drumming, start with this one and work backwards. If you like symphonic start with 1, if you like prog-metal start with 3. If you're still not sure, start with 2 which is my favorite.

After being knocked out by their 3 releases I can't wait to hear where this band goes from here. If you like your rock and roll to explore futuristic concepts and take you for a ride that is never boring you need to check this out. I wish I could find the words to give a more accurate picture of the feelings evoked by their music but it's not easy. All I know is I have that same incredible feeling I had when I discovered Hemispheres or Animals as a teenager. I haven't found music quite like this since.

If you still need convincing you can find many samples from all 3 releases at and there find out where to pick up their cds. You will also see their neat intro with great quotes about propaganda.

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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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