Various - The Best of Taste of Chaos (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Best of Taste of Chaos (2006)


The Best of Taste of Chaos is an excessively long compilation with relatively vague intentions, yet quite literally proclaims itself to be "the most definitive post-hardcore collection to ever be assembled." The 2-disc set reads like a "who's who" of the newest wave of said genre, showcasing everyone from Armor for Sleep and My American Heart to Thursday and the Dillinger Escape Plan. Several initial problems lie within, the first being that many of these bands' more nerdy fans are likely to list 'post-hardcore' as a secondary or further genre (Rise Against would certainly fit better under a 'melodic hardcore' or 'punk revival' heading, while Deftones have always been considered a staple of the alternative rock scene). Additionally, further questions are raised: What exactly is this the best of? Are these the best bands 'post-hardcore' has to offer? The best songs the genre has to offer? If it's the latter, these are the 'best of' as according to who? Warcon Records interns? Sure, the release is in conjunction with the kick-off of this year's Taste of Chaos tour, but this is the only clear message offered by the makers of The Best of Taste of Chaos. Those intents aside, many of these songs are either singles or hard-to-find tracks, both of which are almost never amongst a band's "best" songs.

Now granted, unreleased/rare tracks can certainly be a treat for fans, but the "rarity" of a track sort of starts to lose its luster once it starts to materalize on multiple albums. Underoath's "I've Got Ten Friends and a Crowbar That Says You Won't Do Jack" is a bonus track from the vinyl release of the band's massive-selling 2004 full-length They're Only Chasing Safety, but it's already appeared on Volume 1 of Smartpunk's Music on the Brain compilation series; a year and a half ago, in fact. I don't believe Billy Talent's relatively solid "Red Flag" has seen the light of day, so kudos for that in the least.

However, a good portion of the track listing are mere singles, which means to fans a collection of overplayed, easily available songs, likely currently free downloads on those bands or labels' respective media pages or even on other compilations. Sure, most of Best of's peers maintain a similar flaw, but it's double-edged in some cases here: Thrice's "Stare at the Sun" is taken from an album that isn't even the newest effort from the band! It's very obviously a compilation all about the "now," so why the representation of an older release? It seriously boggles the mind to try and figure out why Warcon didn't secure the rights to a track from Vheissu, which hit retail shelves a good three months before Best of's release. You'll also hear Thursday's "War All the Time" (a barely audibly "remixed" version), Rise Against's "Give It All," From First to Last's "Note to Self," Fear Before the March of Flames' "Should Have Stayed in the Shallows," Every Time I Die's "Kill the Music," and Alexisonfire's "Accidents." The only single that makes any sense is the Dillinger Escape Plan's "Unretrofied," because it's inarguably the band's most accessible song.

How about songs we know for sure have appeared on other, popular compilations already? There's Rise Against's "Give It All" of course, an earlier version of which can be found on Fat Wreck Chords' first Rock Against Bush offering. How about Matchbook Romance's acoustic "In Transit (For You)," not only taken from a nearly two-year old EP, but a song that's included on the soundtrack to Masters of Horror, which predates Best of's release by merely three months. MR has a fair-to-assuredly hyped new album coming out one month after Best of's street date; couldn't something from that be included, which would be a serious selling point? Even if it had to be a (yet another) single ("Monsters")? This again brings up the point of timeliness, a trait of which Best of is sorely, sorely lacking.

The Best of Taste of Chaos may appear ambitious from its monstrous, 2-disc size, but what lies within is content that is anything but. The only praise I can give this set is that for mainstream music fans whose knowledge and tastes start at Fall Out Boy and end at My Chemical Romance, it may act as a useful tool for them to delve into underground "rock," or well, "post-hardcore," in the very least bands lying on the argumentative cusp. We all know that there's much more ground that can be unearthed lying below muddy topsoil. As topsoil, The Best of Taste of Chaos is hardly vegetative, so hopefully the majority of its listeners will find themselves eventually digging through it.