Album Review: Ascended Dead – Evenfall Of The Apocalypse

Album Review: Ascended Dead - Evenfall Of The Apocalypse
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Now it’s no secret I love cavernous and cacophonous death metal. When I first dipped into this side of extreme metal, bands I first discovered were the likes of Australia’s Contaminated, America’s seminal Incantation, but another was fellow US act Ascended Dead, whose 2017 record Abhorrent Manifestation, was as genuine an eye-opener as I’ve ever had in extreme metal. Formed in 2011 out of California before moving later on to Oregon, the band have had a steady climb to fame through the release of numerous EPs, Compilations, Splits, Demos, a Boxed Set and even a Live Album. However, in the way of full length works, Ascended Dead haven’t released that much; the aforementioned Abhorrent Manifestation was met with universal praise so, to see the band gearing up their first new studio release in six years, is a joy to see. Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is primed for a May release, so look no further for what this record is prepped to unleash.

This has to be the most warped guitar tone I have heard in a very long time. To dub Ascended Dead as “Death Metal” is doing the band a severe understatement. I think we’ve become so accustomed to extreme metal becoming twinned with downtuned, bass heavy tones that we forget what it can sound like when a band in question opt for something higher-pitched, wailing and completely out of our control. Speaking of which, there’s no contest of who is being dictated by what; the instant the music begins, Ascended Dead hold you within their clutches and subject you to everything they can feasibly muster. It’s been six years since their last record and the band understand that all too well, as they unleash a barrage of sound that’s more akin to unravelling the fabric of the universe than simply playing some heavy music. The clearer guitar tone is one of the most vicious I’ve ever encountered; riffs don’t come for you, they stab and slice and eviscerate. It’s utterly astonishing the pace by which the band lunge them at us.

That’s what gives this record a remarkable level of replayability. It’s not simply going back to this album in the hope of catching something you missed, because throughout this assault there no doubt will be, but it’s for the joy of experiencing the sheer whirlwind of ferocity the band have up their sleeves. Not since Of Feather And Bone’s latest record have I been thrown back into a wall from the immense wall of sound a band have propagated. The mix is utterly seamless, giving all vocal and instrumental elements their moment to shine yet, the mix has lent a genuine sense of weaponisation to their performance. The aforementioned guitar attack is full frontal, bared and raw for all to behold, utterly inebriated on violence. Just as myself, people will replay songs all throughout their experience of this album just to hear again that breathtaking ferocity. It’s as if the production was tweaked with a slightly blackened edge, taking the band’s already vicious performance and turning it over a whetstone, sharpening its blade to the point of serration.

Album Review: Ascended Dead - Evenfall Of The Apocalypse

But this performance wouldn’t feel anywhere as volatile had Ascended Dead merely approached their songwriting in some rudimentary, formulaic style where we could see where their record was going. There is no form here, no predictable tells that hint towards the band’s intentions for any song. Whatever song you boot up for the first time is a complete mystery as the band immediately let you in on their erratic, nigh-on schizophrenic approach to songwriting that shoves you down vortexes innumerable. Where other bands would at least show you the winding staircase down into that abyss, Ascended Dead just throw you off the edge and wish you good luck as they subject you to absolutely everything they have. Riffs, blast beats, scathing guitar solos, this way, that way, inside and out; there is no limit to the directions the band are prepared to jettison you into. Chunkier riffs, visceral licks, soloing that possesses a heightened pitch that brings your attention to its perverted tones etc, Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is one sublimely evil record..

But what sells this record atmospherically, more than anything, are the vocals. Not since Venomous Skeleton’s Drowning In Circles have I been victim to such a ferocious and frightening vocal display as Ascended Dead sport. It’s less a vocal “delivery” as it is a bellowing wail that still manages to demonstrate exceedingly great control. The vocals aren’t so much “performed” as they are thrust out of their vocalist’s throat; it’s an absolutely unrelenting assault that will grab your attention from the opening second. It’s violence is all the more prominent since the vocals harness a deep, cavernous aesthetic where it feels like his words are just emanating out from his mouth without his needing to move his lips. It’s more like some primordial force if nature that breaking through the earth than a human being eliciting sounds of a vocal nature.

In conclusion, this is an album that is going to draw people to its songwriting and atmosphere incredible quickly. I would absolutely leap at the chance to hear any of this material live since song structure is simultaneously all over the place and extremely concise and controlled. Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is the most blisteringly apathetic listen I’ve experienced in some time; this record simply does not care for your wants, feelings, desires and dreams; it’s here to beat you into the earth and keep you there, bring you up again a touch then pummel you all over again. It’s a staggering cacophony of elements that all bind together seamlessly somehow; often it can become a mess harnessing this many destructive forces on the go at once but Ascended Dead have managed to do just that. Their first album in six years, Evenfall Of The Apocalypse is a triumphant, annihilating opus whose searing songwriting will see people welcomed and returned in droves through its blazing onslaught. I’ve got no hesitation in naming it as an Album Of The Year contender; it’s one grievous punishment after another that only becomes cemented with each passing track. Utterly incredible.

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.