Before the pandemic shutdowns, I enjoyed seeing Denton punk rockers Calculated Chaos occupy Three Links in Deep Ellum, Texas, as the last show the venue would see for many months. This show was accompanied by Rosegarden Funeral Party side project, High Life, and this d-beat and beer tall-boy soaked night proved to be one last hurrah for an extended period. "I felt like we got the last bit of what live music had to offer, we weren't expecting a global pandemic afterward, but I'm glad we were part of the last show," singer/guitarist Arnold Santos said.
This band's fiery passion shows on their debut LP that's guaranteed to shatter eardrums in every room the trio occupies. The explosive sound makes for an exhilarating thrill ride from start to finish on the band's debut record, which only runs for just over 17 minutes. Hailing from the Do-it-yourself music wonderland of Denton, Texas, Calculated Chaos makes a series of shockingly relevant statements on this new release that will have you screaming along with every track.
Produced by Micheal Briggs of Civil Audio in Denton, Texas, the band has formulated a cohesive and fast-paced effort to have all listeners craving the fiery sounds that Calculated Chaos has to offer. Briggs has produced the local likes of Mountain of Smoke, Rosegarden Funeral Party, and Deep Red. Briggs is known for his precise work, and his focus shows on this new release. "Michael is the master. We made our previous EP at Civil Audio as well, and he also works on Noogy's music, which is another punk band in this area. He is amazing at what he does," Santos said.
Punk rock is for the crowd. Mosh pits, singalongs, and stage diving all come to mind when listening to this album. On the album's opening number, "Cops Kill," the band makes their opening statement with a massive anthemic piece. "I don't give a shit," the lyrics read on this opening track. This line is an aggressive sentiment, but good punk rock knows no limits. This album is chock full of abrasive riffs, pummeling drum beats, and song lengths that barely break the two-minute mark, and none of these things should convey any negative association.
The catchy guitar intro on the track "Yoke," reminds me of well-known legends like the Sex Pistols and Black Flag. By the time the chorus hits, I get hints of the soaring choruses from The Casualties and Rancid. We can drop all sorts of punk band names all day, but punk rock doesn't stop at the music itself. Punk Rock is an attitude, a belief system, and depending on who you ask, a look as well. The greats of punk rock influence all the tracks on this record in one way or another, and, remarkably, there are still bands keeping this style alive in venues all over. Fans of the genre will dive right into this release, and once you're in, you won't want to hit pause.
The zany lyricism on the track "First Impressions," reminds me of the slightly comedic content of something you'd find on an Anti-Flag record with a somewhat satirical message that deviates from the idea that punk rockers don't conceive a single thought about what people think, that is, until they need to make money to finance their whiskey and coca-cola habits, like most heavy rock musicians you'd find here in Texas. Whiskey is good, and it goes well with a sonically punishing live band like Calculated Chaos. Screaming along to a loud band while chugging your favorite beverage adds to the experience. It's seemingly ludicrous ever to think there was a time when it was shameful to walk around with holes in your jeans until Queens' The Ramones said, "F--k that that's who we are!" Self-Indulgence is not in the punk rock playbook, and the live shows are what keeps the scene alive. Leather jackets, patches, and mohawks are not foreign to Calculated Chaos, and the loads of fun this album provides makes you want to adopt this style in one way or another.
To slightly age me here, I grew up going to shows at local taco shops before more and more luxury apartments kept popping up and calling in noise complaint after noise complaint. These shows usually entailed small spaces, delicious street tacos, and a night filled with ear-shattering music. What more could an adrenaline junkie music fan want on a given Saturday night? Bands like Calculated Chaos are so rampant that they need this type of space to show who they are and what they stand for, and it would be a travesty if too long passed before we could return to these monstrous, mosh filled shows. Tracks like "Brain Dead" and "Reality Check" seem like they were made for these types of Do-it-yourself venue environments, and you can almost put yourself in that space when this record is blasting in your home where we've all been stuck instead of being at these types of shows.
Speaking of being stuck at home, the album's closer "Fed Up," serves as a fitting closer for this record. "I'm not having fun," is a suitable mantra to close out this release, and the band has done everything they can all over this record to tell its audience that they cannot be contained by anything. Even a global quarantine did not stop them from creating music meant to make people move in one way or another. The piercing guitar solo on this track is quick to prove itself, as are all of the guitar solos on this record, none of them taking any time to jam or go off on any tangent that might take away from the piece's abrasive, straight-to-the-point nature.
Calculated Chaos makes a career statement with every cut on this LP, and it's worth a spin or three, and it's not that long, so listen while you're doing something menial at home. Trust me, it works. Hopefully, Calculated Chaos will get to channel their raging ambitions into a live show soon. Still, we have this record as a worthy companion to what the band can accomplish for now.