You know that thing where you see someone just starting out a hobby or new pursuit, don’t hear from them about it for a while, then discover that they’ve gotten astonishingly, jawdroppingly good at it in your absence, and you’re just like…wow? Well, that’s what listening to Donum Dei’s debut full length album is like. As in utterly, properly wow.

The band formed while still in school in 2011, which must have made trying to get gigs to play at a challenge. They released their debut EP Justice Fails in 2015, which garnered them generally favourable reviews, and continued to play their socks off at every gig they could find, honing their craft and working towards creating their own, unique sound.

All that hard worked has paid off in spades, as you will hear from the moment the album begins. ‘False Hope’ initially beguiles with an almost folky intro, before front man/guitarist Thomas Marshall’s vocals kick in like a vast, ferocious hurricane. It becomes instantly obvious that Contribute to Chaos is a huge step forward in the band’s evolution; they have found their sound, their USP. And although they are clearly inspired by classic metal genres such as thrash, NWOAHM and even industrial, theirs is a thoroughly modern metal.

Each song is outstanding; each brings its own power and fury to the table and showcases the band brilliantly. There literally isn’t a duff number present, or a lull, or a moment where your attention will wander. And the riffs! Check out the strident and insistent groove in ‘Dead on Arrival’; the slinky, thrashy title track; the skin-crawling, ominous lead single ‘Murder and Mayhem’; and the simply written yet devastatingly effective riff in ‘Terrorize’.

There are some surprises thrown in here, too: the addition of Ketos singer Pete Crenshaw on ‘Torture (Makes Them Speak) creates an interesting light/dark texture within the song, as well as giving it a front as big as a Mack truck; ‘Courage From Within’, with its hint of hardcore, is the sort of motivational song which kicks you in the arse and punches you in the face; and album closer ‘Justice Fails’ from their debut EP has been given a smartening up and one hell of a steroid injection, resulting in a song with heft to spare and a perfect example of DD’s now trademark stomp.

Choosing a highlight amongst such a superb collection of songs is tough, but ‘A Wolf Among Us’ just edges the competition out, with its instant rage, crushing riff and violently furious lyrics. The glorious and unexpectedly soaring outro is a big plus, too.

From unashamed Metallica fanboys to a modern metal band in their own right, the journey that Donum Dei have taken, both publicly and in their own rehearsal space, is nothing short of stunning. Their songwriting skills have come along in leaps and bounds; their musicality, the same. Each band member has clearly grown, too, resulting in a band full of fire and brimming with talent. Don’t look away – you don’t want to miss this.


Contribute to Chaos will be launched in the Belfast Empire on Thursday, March 1st, with support from Death of a Salesman, Ketos and Dream Awake. See the band’s Facebook page for details.


Review by Melanie Brehaut

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