Ares Kingdom The Unburiable Dead 01As I often explain to the norms that are curious about what’s like being in a band full-time, it’s like a tenuous polygamous marriage, so it’s no surprise when great bands break up. Typically one of your favorite bands calling it a day is laden with as much pain as your first teenage heartbreak. In the case of Order From Chaos, the band’s demise wasn’t due to ego or vague musical differences, it was by design. The plan was to release three full-lengths and then fold and that’s precisely what they did. Rather than even remotely overstaying their welcome, they went out on the highest and grimiest note possible. In their wake we were given a murder of blackened bands like Angelcorpse, Vulpecula, Kerasphorous, and more. Right at the fore of that flock is Ares Kingdom, the long-standing project comprised of two-thirds of Order From Chaos: vastly unsung guitar visionary Chuck Keller and flagellator Mike Keller on drums, rounded out by the carcinogenically-throated Alex Blume on bass and vocals.

It’s been five years since their sophomore release Incendiary, two since their covers album Veneration, and since Ares Kingdom perfected their brand of blackened thrash/death metal. In this day and age where every hole of the corpse has been fucked to the point of gaping, it’s not uncommon for a metal band to sound derivative. Such is the strength of Ares Kingdom. No other band sounds like them. No drummer. No guitarist. No vocalist. Unavoidably, there are moments reminiscent of Keller and Miller’s former projects, but still Ares Kingdom very much has its own sound, taking from all extreme genres and forging their own on this, their third album, The Unburiable Dead.

World War I is a heavy lyrical topic for a concept record, and as with the best of Voivod, the music on The Unburiable Dead conveys the concept but never at the expense of the riff. Keller’s performance is unhinged but precise. Like early Sodom, he and the whole triumvirate at times play so frantically it sounds as if they are on the verge of dissolving into total chaos. “Demoralize” hammers the listener with a buzzsaw riff in the chorus as the trials and tribulations of war batter both sides of the struggle. “Writhe: Fettered to a Corpse,” the sole instrumental, is a testament to the strength of Keller’s songwriting, conveying the notion that the German High Command’s alliance with the floundering Austria-Hungary was a burden rather than a benefit without the use of words. That’s not to discount from Blume’s emotive vocal delivery. When he spews, “Wave upon wave upon wave upon wave,” during the album opener, “Ubique,” he delivers each word with the ferocious impact of a Luger bullet to the base of the skull. His voice is surprisingly intelligible for a man that sounds like he gargles battery acid, a rarity in extreme music. The title track, about those who lost their lives in the Great War, is a heavy death metal song that carries weight with riff and lyric and is a strong contender for song of the year.

Ares Kingdom The Unburiable Dead 02

Keller’s lyrical abilities are as strong as his composing. On “Salient and Redoubt,” he captures the desperation and misery of a stalemate on the battlefield with the most poignant lines of the whole proceeding, “We’re here because we’re here, Hell no longer of fire and flame. Hell is mud.” One of the standout songs on the album, Mike Miller’s pounding performance perfectly accentuates the material. He never overplays, rather surges forward with the power of a German A7V tank, delivering a perfectly ballistic battery. The production is very live. As with the previous Ares Kingdom releases, the drums particularly sound as if you are standing in the room with the band. One of my favorite things about the production is the sound of the fingers sliding on the strings. Like with Voivod, particularly on Dimension Hatross, the sounds, the swishes, the clanks of the instruments are as much a part of the music as the notes they are playing.

Ares Kingdom should be celebrated in this era of the single, of iTunes, of record labels folding, for making music that matters not because the collective public can hum along to it, but because the topic matter is as heavy as the material. We owe a debt of gratitude to these three musicians for throwing commercialism to the wind. For releasing an album that will sell a few thousand copies but will mean something to every individual that gets it. Ares Kingdom will never be a band to decamp from the underground, so let us shelter them. Let us hoist them up on our shoulders and carry them to the ears of those that long to bask in the days before the internet sucked all the mystery and majesty out of the music that we, the select, know is one of the few things left worth fighting for.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Websites: ares-kingdom.com | facebook.com/areskingdom
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2015

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Nice review Al. Sounds unique and powerful.

    Not sure I like Chuck’s choice of outerwear in the band photo, though. Isn’t that an infantry jacket from World War I? My sentiments on the fashion front are similar to those of Steel Druhm in his review of Civil War’s Gods and Generals.

  • Great review. I don’t know if it’s necessarily unique, I think it’s just really, unbelievably good. This is an album you can go to war with. I listen to this and I can’t ignore that it is playing. It seems to have increased my ability to do two things at once. The band definitely makes some interesting choices. Do you note that when the music shifts to one speaker, the speaker the sound is leaving continues to hum for a split second and then stops, like “ope, sorry.” Not sure what that’s about, speaker rebellion? Anyway, the fact that they have this available to listen to online but no digital download is weird as all get out. But I bought the album anyway, for it destroys with a vigor I haven’t heard from any album out yet this year.

    • Their sound is what I find to be unique. I know exactly what you are talking about and that phenomenon of the sound humming in the speaker is part of it. Almost as if there is white noise under the music, giving everything a harsher edge and that’s part of what gives it all a live feel a well. You hit the nail on the head, this is not music you can have on in the background. It demands and deserves your attention. Often we listen to albums ad nauseam in preparing for a review and I’ve spun this one a few times post review and will continue to do so.

  • I hate NWN bandcamp. I am like “PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY NOW” and they are like “NOPE,maybe later. *MAYBE*.”

    I find ridiculous that they delay the bandcamp sales to… I don’t know why??? To “force” people to buy the CD’s?

    Profound Lore used to do the same shit, I’m glad they finally understood that we’re on fucking 2015.

    • Metal hipsters dude. They’re in San Fran.

    • That’d be my guess. Delay downloads to prompt physical sales. The packaging is bad ass, worth the purchase especially considering NWN sells the CD for a measly $6

      • That’s OK for US people, but my problem is that I usually have to deal with at least $10 extra for S&H. To turn away a paying customer for no reason considering the state of the music industry is nuts and really frustrating.

        • Completely understand.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          S&H charges are indeed frustrating. I’m in Canada, and now on top of that, the Loonie is nosediving. I would probably order way more CDs if it wasn’t for that.

    • I too am waiting for the Bandcamp release as well. They did say in the forums that it will happen soon.

    • From Chuck: “We are in charge of posting the downloads and will get to it asap. We only just got our copies and need them to get the album on our account. Thanks to everyone for their support! -Chuck”

      • So I guess they are creating their own bandcamp page? At least they get the money without middleman.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          I went to their bandcamp page (just google “ares kingdom unburiable bandcamp”) and clicked Follow. Hopefully that means I’ll be notified when the downloads are up.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yep I agree, it’s very frustrating there have been more than a few times that I’ve gone to buy an album been prevented (I’m not ordering a CD to ship to Australia) and then thats it I move on get something else instead and the moment passes band misses out on a sale.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Oh, those drums. Such great placement in the soundscape. I wish more bands did this.

    • You wot m8?

      I know, right? They’re weird, yet wonderful.

  • You wot m8?

    Reading the review, I didn’t think this one would be for me… Then I went and found some promo material on YouTube. Goddamn, son. The vocals are just my level of power. The guitars are intricate, but with an edge of fuzz I find to be just right. The drums are weirdly mixed, and I love that weirdness!

    These guys aren’t my favorite, or even in my top 10, but they’re certainly worth a listen or two.

  • Worldeater

    Thanks for bringing them to my attention, great review! I’ll check them out while waiting for the bandcamp release.

  • PanzerFistDominatrix

    Bad tank metaphor dude… the A7V was produced in low numbers, came late to the party (1918) and is by and large considered a failure, also in its time.

    But you gotta give it to Fritz, serious comeback skills, running a tight panzer game 20 years later. Sounds like Ares Kingdom is rolling out some good stuff here too, I’ll try them out.

    • You’re on the WWI history! Nice!

      • PanzerFistDominatrix

        I am, yes – though I had to look a few things up to be honest. Anyway, thanks for replying :-)

        • Oh, that is great! By the way, check out what Chuck Keller just posted on Facebook:

          ==
          When your album gets a comment from the archivist of a national institution…

          “Ares Kingdom’s latest album, ‘The Unburiable Dead,’ viscerally expresses the death and destruction of World War I in a style that is as
          brutal, nasty and unforgiving as the war itself. Of particular note is the title track that conveys the numbing reality of the unknown thousands who perished in this horrific conflict, literally disappearing into the battlefields of mass slaughter. The songs’ messages are bleak and unforgiving, so much like the war itself.”

          – Jonathan Casey, Museum Archivist and Edward Jones Research Center Manager
          National World War I Museum and Memorial

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Then you know you did your research for the lyrics right! Never mind the review on AMG when such a dude from such an institution notices and comments, lol

            (Btw, I didn’t build the lego tank, just lifted the pic off the interwebz)

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Sounds good I will definitely check this out.

  • Dennis Thomsen

    This band has a very strong discography. For some reason they have largely been under the radar for many listeners of the metal it seems… perhaps this is the album that will change that for them. It is a stellar album.