THE HISTORY… Order From Chaos was formed in late 1987 by Chuck Keller (guitars), Pete Helmkamp (bass / vocals) and Mike Miller (drums). The band recorded three demos: "Demo I" (January 1988), "Inhumanities" (July 1988) and "Crushed Infamy" (July 1989). The last, "Crushed Infamy", sold 1000 copies and gained the attention of Putrefaction Records, resulting in the "Will To Power" 7"EP, which was pressed in 1100 copies. Their first full length "Stillbirth Machine" was finally released by Wild Rags Records in 1993, and on vinyl by Decapitated Records (now Unisound) from Greece. More releases include the "Plateau Of Invincibility" 10" / CD (on Shivadarshana Records from Holland), followed by the "Jericho Trumpet" 7"EP and the second full length "Dawn Bringer" (also for Shivadarshana). In 1994 the band recorded a live EP ("Live: Into Distant Fears") for Eternal Darkness Creations. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Order From Chaos played a few shows in their own city. Their reputation for fire breathing and bone throwing coupled with the ferocity of their stage presence all but banned Order From Chaos from every club in their area. Numerous gigs occured abroad though, including places such as Milwaukee, Omaha, Fort Wayne, Manassas, New Haven and New York. The New York gig in 1994 (known as Deathstock) was the pure chaos and mayhem that truly represents what Order From Chaos was all about. The show is already legendary among those who witnessed it. Their music brings to mind the conviction and dedication of the early 80s European tradition of Black / Death Metal bands like Bathory, Sodom, Venom, Celtic Frost and Australia’s Slaughter Lord. According to their masterplan, adopted at the bands’ inception, Order From Chaos split up in spring 1995 after the recording of their third full length "An Ending in Fire" and the mini CD "And I Saw Eternity" (a joint release between Ground Zero Entertainment and Shivadarshana Records). Rather than even run the risk of disappointing their oldest fans with a mediocre release as all their forefathers have now done, Order From Chaos consciously chose to end their career at its peak. "An Ending In Fire" is the climax of their manifestation, a fitting epitaph for a band that has become a cult. The end of an era, the beginning of a legend…
Chuck, as we all know, ORDER FROM CHAOS is history by now… Is it true that you ended the band because you didn’t had anything to say anymore musically and that you kinda reached the end of the line?
"Yes, that is true. The band ended after the third album "An Ending In Fire". We always knew there would be only this many ORDER FROM CHAOS albums. Too many times have we all watched our favorite bands go beyond their usefulness because they have a few friends telling them they are so great… and the band believes it is so. This will not be allowed to happen to ORDER FROM CHAOS – fans. It took two years for me to write our last song ‘There Lies Your Lord, Father Of Victories’, a thirteen minute epic. During the writing I began to notice many things in certain passages sounded like things we had done before, so I threw them out. To me that was a clear sign that my personal style has peaked. Sure, I could go on and write more ORDER FROM CHAOS styled music and it might be quite ‘good’, but I defy anyone to tell me some part of it is: a) better than our previous material and b) that it does not sound like anything else we have already done. If it is not better than what has come before it, then something is wrong. No longer would our songs be original. Maybe no one else would notice, but I would! What follows any peak is the downhill slide and I will not subject all the ravenously loyal ORDER FROM CHAOS fans to such selfishness as many great bands of the past have done to their fans. So, on Saturday, April 22, 1995 we played our final rehearsal for our closest friends here in Kansas City and several who came in from out of town. It was truely "An Ending In Fire"! The end has come because we have fullfilled our destiny and goal of three full length albums. Make no mistake, this is a deliberate decision and has been pre-ordained since our earliest days."
ORDER FROM CHAOS had been around in the scene for a really long time now and you never jumped on any bandwaggon to please the mainstream listener of Death Metal. So, I would like to know your feelings towards the evolution of the underground over the years. Anything you like better these days?
"We never had the slightest inclination to join any of the trends that have evolved in the underground over the last years. We started with a single purpose in mind: to do one thing as it were. Whether it was ‘cool’ or popular was never a consideration. I must honestly say there is very little that I do like about the underground these days, let alone believe all that much to be better. There are bands that are utterly fantastic, like EMPEROR, ABIGAIL, SIGH, DISSECTION, NEPENTHE… but then there are also so many ‘pretenders to the throne’…"
I was often asking myself, what kind of meaning your bandname might have had to you personally? Did you choose it with something in particular in mind or just because it fitted the band and the music? What does "chaos" mean to you?
"To me personally it is a basic concept and I read no pretentious ideas into it. The name evokes a universal theme and struggle that all creatures are engaged in. As to how it may relate to ORDER FROM CHAOS, it was simply the most original name we could think of in light of what we were trying to do as a band."
There’s been quite alot of releases circulating of ORDER FROM CHAOS and throughout your career you worked with several different underground companies because of that. So would you mind giving us some comments about each one of them?
"Up until 1990 we released only demos. "Demo I" was recorded January 1988 in my garage with a 4-track mixer. It contained ultra primitive versions of our first tracks ‘Of Death And Dying’,’Quietus’ and ‘The Scourge’. I found the artwork in the Kansas City Star editorial column and instantly we had a cover. It sold about 75 – 100 official copies and really got the ball rolling for us. It was followed up in July 1988 by the"Inhumanities" demo which we still view as a great classic. It contained ‘Victimized’, ‘Apocalyptic Visions’ ,’Golgotha (Second Death)’ and ‘The Scourge’. The sound was very ambiguous and atmospheric, yet it allowed our musical talents to be heard. The producer really was an oddball; he looked EXACTLY like Weird Al Yancovic, so we dubbed him Tony ‘Weird Al’ Walters. Pete came up with this cover… quite simple, but in a way it really reflected what the band sounded like at the time. After that we recorded our widely known "Crushed Infamy" demo, from January to July 1989. We were able to take so much time with this because of my girlfriend at the time. Her father owned a studio and he was quite fond of us as a band. Though he did not really understand the band’s music, he respected our discipline and dedication to our music and he graciously donated his studio and time to helping us out. The cover was painted by George Grosz in the early 20th century… it is more or less an expression of the disdain for humanity he feIt following the first World War. The "Will To Power" 7" followed this and though the packaging is brilliant, the production is wretched. Not the thing to follow up "Crushed Infamy" with. Anyhow we then did an LP "Stillbirth Machine" for Wild Rags in 1991 (now sold out) which was finally released in 1993(!). In the summer of 1993 we recorded the "Plateau Of Invincibility" 10" which was released by Shivadarshana Records. In December 1993 we recorded our second album "Dawn Bringer" (on Shiva) and the "Jericho Trumpet" 7". In the summer of 1994 we did a live 7" "Live: Into Distant Fears" for Eternal Darkness. And in April / May 1995 we recorded our final album "An Ending In Fire"…"
Did you release "Will To Power" as a demo first or was the 7" version earlier ? An do they differ from each other in any way?
"The 7" was the first to be released and sold out rather quickly. The demo – version does have different pictures, but the artwork by Toxin was the same on the cassette."
Wild Rags Records also re-released your demos with full colour cover and stuff, so what can you tell us about the original releases and what made you go with Wild Rags?
"I had dealt with Richard C. many times in the late 80s and he was always perfectly honest with me, so I had no reason to doubt his word. The re-releases were done with Wild Rags to defray the production costs of "Stillbirth Machine", so we could begin to receive royalties from the album straight away, hahahaha. The joke was on us."
You had serious problems to get that album released as there’s been two companies involved… Can you clear up all the confusion and delays?
"Delays I cannot clear up as they did not occur because of us. Wild Rags originally had the rights to the album. They dropped us from the label in November 1992 (something they have conveniently forgotten now), but did not return the layouts and DATs (as promised) and went ahead and released it. A lesson learned late on our part I suppose…"
But if Wild Rags dropped you from their label, why do you still consider their release as the official version and the Decapitated Records version as a bootleg? What kind of mistakes had been made on the Greek version?
"Because at least Wild Rags released the format we designed. Technically, because they dropped us in November 1992, they had no right to release the album at all, but since they had no intention of holding to their word and send back to us the layouts and DATs, there was nothing we could do. The Decapitated version looks nothing like what we designed for them in the spring of 1993 (which was completely different from the Wild Rags version). So, as far as we are concerned, it is a bootleg. From misspelled names to words omitted from the songtitles, the Decapitated has many marks of a rank amateur."
What made you re-record older songs from the first demo on later releases?
"We felt that tracks like ‘Of Death And Dying’ and ‘Quietus’ were good songs. Admittedly we had progressed lightyears by the time we re-recorded them for "Crushed Infamy", but we remember our past and do not try to demean it just because we were young and inexperienced song writers. I mean, what about ‘Conjuration’ on "Persecution Mania" or ‘Witchhammer’ on "Obsessed By Cruelty"? They’re great tracks and deserved to be done over. It does not mean that the old versions of the songs are in any way inferior, however. In fact I tend to think (in retrospect) the "Crushed Infamy" version of ‘Blood And Thunder’ is better than the "Stillbirth Machine" version…"
The "Plateau Of Invincibility" record came out as a 10", which is quite an untypical format. So, who came up with the idea for it and was it limited in any way?
"Our ideal as a band has always been to do things as original as possible. No one was doing maxi singles anymore, but more especially no Metal bands were doing 10"es. That format gave us more room to expand our packaging quality while at the same time doing something unheard of in our genre. Yes, it is limited to something like 1500 copies. There’s also a CD-version of it that has both this and the limited edition "Live: Into Distant Fears" 7" from Eternal Darkness Records. These vinyl products are for collectors only and when they’re gone, they’re gone!"
Where did you record this live 7" and for what reason? Was there a lot of demand for ORDER FROM CHAOS live material?
"It was recorded live in the studio at the same place where we have recorded everything since "Plateau…". There was scattered demand for live ORDER FROM CHAOS, but it was more something that we have always wanted to do and we are very pleased with the outcome."
You payed alot of tribute musically to the ancient times of this genre by doing covers of great old songs… Any songs that hadn’t been recorded, that you would’ve like to do (or which you may have played during live shows or rehearsals already)?
"No, we were done with covers. Sure there are other songs that deserve to be covered. I always wanted to do ‘Cry War’ (as it was a song I wrote when I first learned to play guitar… imagine my surprise when I heard it on a certain band from Essen’s album…). We also covered ‘Sepulchral Voice’ in our earliest days."
If you could turn back the time for ORDER FROM CHAOS, when would you have liked to be here? Would it have been some kind of dream for you to share the stage with SODOM, VENOM, HELLHAMMER and the likes?
"Thank you. Nah, we always dreamt of playing with EUROPE, S.A.D.O. and RAGE. We have never heard of SODOM or VENOM. Are they supposed to be good or something?" (argh, a stupid question deserves a stupid answer! – Ed.)
Your second album "Dawn Bringer" was already recorded in December 1993, but just like with your first album, it took a really long time to get released… What is the reason that you always had to wait such a long time? Give us some further details on it and also on your final album "An Ending In Fire"…
"Ask the labels! I suppose it just takes a long time for things to get going unless you are on a label like Osmose or Century Snoozia. We were not a ‘big’ band in the sense that SAMAEL is (one of the last great bands of our era), so had to wait a bit longer for our things to be released. Sure, it gets very tiresome having to wait so long, but the labels we went with, like Shivadarshana allowed us to do more with our packaging and layouts. For instance we chose our own covers and did our own typesetting… Everything was just as we wanted it and not the way some pinhead record company bozo thinks it looks the most professional. "Dawn Bringer" has 9 tracks (two being unreleased live – tracks) and is around 45 minutes long. Since it is out now, I will let the readers get it and discover for themselves what it is about. Our final album is also done by now. It has 3 tracks and is about 40 minutes long. Song breakdown goes thus: ‘There Lies Your Lord, Father Of Victories’ , ‘Somnium Helios’ – I) ‘Nucleosynthesis’, II) ‘De Stella Nova’, III) ‘An Ending In Fire’, ‘Conqueror Of Fear’ – I) ‘Dawn Bringer Invictus’, II) ‘Tenebrae’, III) ‘The Sign Draconis’, IV) ‘Plateau Of Invincibility’, V) ‘The Angry Red Planet’, Fugue for Cydonia’ .This album represents the musical culmination of ORDER FROM CHAOS’ existence. It has new tracks as well as some that date back to 1989. The sound is unbelievable, yet not too clean! It is a fitting epitaph to our existence. Before this final album, there also was another MCD called "And I Saw Eternity" from Ground Zero Productions. It had a new version of ‘The Edge Of Forever’, a new instrumental track called ‘Imperium (The Toils Of Virtue)’, the "Jericho Trumpet" version of ‘Webs Of Perdition’ and ‘De Stella Nova’ from "An Ending In Fire" in its entirety."
It was also announced that there’s would be a vinyl version of "Dawn Bringer", including a free live EP…
"Unfortunately the vinyl version of both "Dawn Bringer" and the 7" have been scraped by the label."
There’s also been talk of a CD version of your "Crushed Infamy" demo… So, was there still a demand for that release? Was it your bestselling, most popular release in the past maybe?
"The story is quite unusual. We had been thinking of doing this very thing for a few months when many requests for replacement copies of the demo began to come in and about that time Shivadarshana decided they wanted to do a CD of it. So all the pieces fell right into place…" (the "Crushed Infamy" demo finally ended up as bonus tracks on Osmose’s 1998 re-release of "Stillbirth Machine". The label also released the band’s final album "An Ending In Fire" around the same time – Ed.)
Okay Chuck, that’s about it… All the best with whatever you do (or plan on doing) – if you have any closing comments, feel free to add them now…
"From the depths of our hearts we extend endless gratitude to our friends and fans throughout the world as well as to those who will only know of us in the years to come. ORDER FROM CHAOS as a band may be over, but our spirit and integrity are eternal! May the legend grow and our words be heard by all who are courageous enough to face the truth."
Interview: Frank Stöver
Introduction courtesy of HEKSHEIM / Henry Leirvoll (used and partly re-written without permission)
"DEMO I" (Demo 1988)
3. The Scourge
"Inhumanities" (Demo 1988)
2. Apocalyptic Visions
3. Golgotha (Second Death)
4. The Scourge
"Crushed Infamy" (Demo 1989)
1. Webs Of Perdition
3. Crimes Against The State
4. Of Death And Dying
5. Blood And Thunder
"Will To Power" (7" / Cassette)
(Putrefaction Records / Wild Rags, 1990)
1. Webs Of Perdition
"Stillbirth Machine" (LP / CD )
(Wild Rags / Decapitated, 1991)
1. The Edge Of Forever
2. Power Elite
3. Iconoclasm Conquest
4. Forsake Me This Mortal Coil
5. Stillbirth Machine
6. Blood And Thunder
7. As The Body Falls Away
"Plateau Of Invincibility" (10" / CD)
(Shivadarshana Records, 1994)
1. Plateau Of Invincibility
3. Dead Of The Night / Senile Decay
4. Stillbirth Machine (Live)*
5. Plateau Of Invincibility (Live)*
*Bonus tracks on the CD version, from the "Live: Into Distant Fears" 7"EP
"Dawn Bringer" CD
(Shivadarshana Records, 1994)
1. Labyrinthine Whispers
2. Ophiuchus Rex (He Who Plays With The Serpents)
3. War And Pain
4. Tenebrae / The Sign Draconis
5. Raise The Banner
6. Webs Of Perdition
7. As The Body Falls Away (Live)*
8. Forsake Me This Mortal Coil (Live)*
*Bonus tracks on the CD version, from the "Pain Lengthens Time" 7"EP
"Jericho Trumpet" (7" EP)
(Gestapo Records, 1994)
1. Webs Of Perdition
2. War And Pain
"Live: Into Distant Fears" (7" EP)
(Eternal Darkness Creations, 1994)
1. Stillbirth Machine (Live)
2. Plateau Of Invincibility (Live)
"And I Saw Eternity" MCD
(Ground Zero Entertainment, 1996)
1. The Edge Of Forever
2. Webs Of Perdition
4. De Stella Nova
"Stillbirth Machine / Crushed Infamy" (CD)
(Osmose Productions, 1998)
2. The Edge Of Forever
3. Power Elite
4. Iconoclasm Conquest
5. Forsake Me This Mortal Coil
6. Stillbirth Machine
7. Blood And Thunder
8. As The Body Falls Away
9. Crimes Against The State*
10. Of Death And Dying*
11. Webs Of Perdition*
13. Blood And Thunder*
*Bonus tracks on the re-release, from the "Crushed Infamy" demo
"An Ending In Fire" (CD)
(Osmose Productions, 1998)
1. Conqueror Of Fear
I. Dawn Bringer Invictus
III. The Sign Draconis
IV. Plateau Of Invincibility
V. The Angry Red Planet
2. There Lies Your Lord, Father Of Victories
3. Somnium Helios
II. De Stella Nova
III. An Ending In Fire