Ascended Dead – Evenfall Of The Apocalypse Review

Ascended Dead’s 2017 debut, Abhorrent Manifestation, ripped its way through a marked year for death metal. It was a favorite of the year for me: a riff-a-minute barrage with primal underpinnings of Possessed, Sarcófago, and Necrovore coupled with a technical edge and delivered with the ‘roid raged brutality of war metal. What’s been interesting to note is just how captivating its spell of staying power has been. Of all the other death metal from that year I rate quite favorably (and still do)–Tomb Mold’s Primordial Malignity, Contaminated’s Final Man, Venenum’s Trace Of Death, Phrenelith’s Desolate Endscape, Spectral Voice’s Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing–my little Abhorrent Manifestation CD has gotten the most spins over the course of the last five years. Beneath the chaos there is structure–the morbid angular riffs have a knack for hooking the eardrums and the rhythm section finds a heart pounding pulse within the chaos. Despite the machine-gunned delivery there is a twisted sense of songwriting at play, even if done by someone on the brink of total mental collapse. Madness to the method, method to the madness.

Release date: May 12, 2023. Label: 20 Buck Spin.
Despite releasing a pair of killer splits in the interim that helped ease fears of a sophomore slump, the bar nevertheless sits quite high for Ascended Dead’s full length follow-up: Evenfall Of The Apocalypse. In a curious move, the opening number shares the title of their debut. “Abhorrent Manifestation” puts their earliest conjuration on the chopping block and promptly smashes through it with a flurried attack. The riffcraft in the first 30 seconds following the intro are whiplashing to say the least. It’s like two different styles of death played at once, often in one riff: scathingly barbaric death/thrash and mind-warping technical death with a knack for serpentine groove.

This coiled fluidity makes for the backbone of Evenfall: Even when passages repeat, they never quite follow a predictable pattern. Some element in the music is always modified–be it an impromptu barrage across the seemingly bottomless toms of the percussion department or the significantly upgraded lead guitar chops flying off the rails with reckless abandon. The music feels conjured more than written–fluid, alive, and unrestrained–an instinctual energy from those well-versed in the grimoires of Morbid Angel and Gorguts.

That primal death backbone retains on “Ungodly Death.” Total war assault. Already strained vocals howl across unrelenting blast beats and dank, otherworldly sounding guitar. A scorchingly evil lead blazes its way into the blackness (remember the first time you heard the lead on “The Exorcist?” That burst of unexpected hypnotic magic?) . The Possessed semblance doesn’t end there–the bulk of the song feels like an alien take on Seven Churches, as though Ascended Dead are violently yanking their inspirations from the cosmic consciousness of death metal through a prism of otherworldly horror.

To say Ascended Dead somehow convinced Morbid Angel, Gorguts, Blasphemy, Ripping Corpse, Possessed, and Necrovore to pack into a tight service elevator before cutting the cord and sending them all through the molten core of the earth at a thousand miles per hour and recording it to see what happened would not be an inaccurate description of Evenfall Of The Apocalypse, but it would perhaps downplay the band’s devotion to carving out their own path from elder texts.

The acoustic instrumental, “Dormant Souls,” was an outlier on Abhorrent Manifestation. While skilled and emotive, it sits a little awkwardly in the center of the album. Its cousin, appearing halfway through Evenfall (“Passage To Eternity”) nurtures the somewhat clumsy, if effective, seed of an idea into full blossom. Wailing leads meet rasgueado strumming in a swirling, intense flamenco of death–an unmistakable signature amongst the crescendo of chaos, and an empowering breath of air amongst the tornado of whirling, jagged blades that comprises the bulk of the record.

The build of “Passage” makes the delivery of the closing tracks all the more confident. “Evenfall Of The Apocalypse” bleeds with the odd symmetry between black and death, melodic and brutal, that brings to mind Singapore’s Abhorer (the fascination with the term “Abhorrent Manifestations” suddenly makes a lot of sense). Swirling guitar and drums that pan across the soundscape like an ambush, marching arrogantly into an intense tornado of horror.

Ascended Dead’s greatest strength on Evenfall Of The Apocalypse isn’t so much in emulating the spirit of the Ancient Ones as it is shoving them into the Almighty Grinder™️ and pureeing them into a sort of Necronomic Salsa.

Or, in other words, atom-splicing, nuclear metal of death.

 

Posted by Ryan Tysinger

I listen to music, then I write about it. On Twitter @d00mfr0gg (Outro: The Winds Of Mayhem)

  1. This is so primal, and advanced, at the same time. And as you said: it feels conjured rather than written. What a thrill ride this killer record is. I also enjoyed their debut in 2017 and have listened to it regularly over the years. The percussion on these songs is just awesome, but seem so muffled in the mix; a shame the creative and fluid drumming is not much more prominent in the production. I see (on Metal Archives) that the drummer was also in Skeletal Remains, and many other exciting bands. Superlative review.

    Reply

    1. Good point, Charlie’s drumming is fantastic! I think they were going for more “felt than heard,” and it works for me! Plenty audible with a focused listen, but not so much as it demands the spotlight, though Charlie is killing it like it is. Very intuitive style that peppers those sharp little riff changes just right with fills.

      Thanks for checking the review and for the kind words!

      Reply

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