Why, many of us are often asked, do we listen to such angry and violent music? The best answer is because we like it, but more defensive types will jump to justifications like complex song structures, musical talent, and the sheer physical endurance of the artists. Fine and dandy, but those are hardly sufficient arguments that miss the flaw contained in the question: you can certainly judge a man by the company he keeps, but not what keeps him company on his headphones. Why, many reviewers often ask themselves, should I recommend or trash this record? I’ve asked this question of myself about Ascended Dead’s Abhorrent Manifestation repeatedly, and my truthful answer to that is “I have no idea.”

To borrow a line from the ever-impressive Grymm, Abhorrent Manifestation sounds like what all death metal must sound like to people with no experience of the genre. It’s a largely unceasing barrage of indecipherable vocals, murky riffs that sound fast and intricate, and drums that are inconceivably vicious and precise. To my ears, this is full-throttle stuff that’s just on the brink of war metal (skirmish metal?), and brings ideas from Incantation and newer Immolation into the Conqueror style of aural punishment. Those dirges of Incantation aren’t present, and Ascended Dead aren’t as complex as Immolation, so what we’re left with is the more intense and straightforward parts of both organized into something reminiscent of the “bestial” template of cycling through a series of riffs quickly and keeping the pedal to the floor nearly the entire time.

Ascended Dead are largely okay at what they do. They’ve got more actual riffs than your run of the mill war metal band, and “Subconscious Barbarity” showcases that nicely. It provides a primal sort of thrill, its later Incantation riffs blending with the war metal aesthetic to make something close to visceral noise but with enough discernible riffs to be enjoyed as an actual song as well. “Perdition” has some fascinating drum patterns in its beginning, and they kept me compulsively coming back to make sense of them again and again. The rest of the song doesn’t exactly slouch either, reminding me of Kingdom of Conspiracy and Decimate Christendom in equal parts. It’s less war metal than most other stuff here, and the breathing room certainly helps it be more engaging than its counterparts.

As anyone who’s read this far knows is coming, the big problem with Abhorrent Manifestation lies in its lack of meaningful identity. There’s really no reason to listen to this over the fairly similar and more satisfyingly filthy Pissgrave, and Ascended Dead certainly aren’t going to knock Incantation or Immolation out of your rotation. I’m hard-pressed to remember more than a handful of riffs, structures, climaxes, or interesting bits, and a song like “Ensnared for Eternity” just goes in one ear and straight out the other with imitation-grade Incantation riffing mixed with the monotony of war metal.

The production on Abhorrent Manifestation is claustrophobic yet dynamic, very human, and raw; in other words, it’s utterly perfect for the music. Putting this on loudly sees violence blaring from your speakers, and in turn the argument can be made that this is more about atmosphere. This argument, here as everywhere, is spectacularly poor and not to be seriously considered. Atmosphere ought to compliment quality content, not be the end goal in itself. Unfortunately, the impression Ascended Dead gives me is of a band who wants to make the most violent music they can, meaning that the atmosphere of violence puts songwriting in the back seat. This is too measured and professional to have the youthful charm of, say, Sarcofago, and too uninteresting riff-wise to be worthwhile Incantation-core.

Truly bothersome is that Ascended Dead sound incredibly talented, and are adept at writing chaotic music. Their brand of chaos just isn’t particularly engaging, and one gets the feeling that nothing really happened during Abhorrent Manifestation’s runtime. Of course plenty did happen, as roughly four million notes across all instruments were played, but recalling much of anything is like trying to recall what you had for dinner on Tuesday three weeks ago: those details have long since left your memory to make room for more important things.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records | Invictus Productions
Websites: ascended-dead.bandcamp.com | | facebook.com/ascended-dead
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2017

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  • Name’s Dalton

    I was just listening to this last night, after Lantern and Venenum. Really liked it.

  • Probably I like their previous stuff more but still Abhorrent Manifestation is one the highlights in death metal this year so far (among with Tomb Mold).

    • Eli Valcik

      Tomb Mold was pretty great

      • herrschobel

        oh yeah !

  • Frost15

    Agree with the other commentators. A 2.0 score is not fair to this album. Probably a 3.0 or even a 3.5 to be honest.

  • contenderizer

    From the review, I was expecting Teitanblood or the ear-drilling equivalent. This is just some catchy, brutal death metal delivered with tons of energy. Great riffs & guitar tone, awesome drumming, fuck yes.

  • Reese Burns

    I’m happy to say that I’m not really feeling that review score. It’s more of a 3.5 to my ears.

    • Tofu muncher

      yep. This sounds REALLY good. Curious about the score.

  • Dudeguy Jones

    I think its all rather catchy, in all its brutality. It pulls it off really well, and I do think its rather one note, but there are plenty of metal fans who would like this a bunch. The “bringing Immolation/Incantation to a Conqueror style” comment was spot on.

  • hallowed

    This is solid stuff. As far as I am concerned not every new band needs to reinvent the wheel, as long as they make crushing music.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      In this case, it’s not about reinventing the wheel but about crushing everything to smithereens with it.

  • Tom Hardy

    Album of the month, album of the first quarter, call it what you want to tickle your scrotum but this is nothing short of any of that. It punches the teeth off newer Incantation, newer MEH Immolation (poor Immolation gets called out even though I don’t hear any Immolation in this album) … lets review those tags again … Pissgrave (?) doesn’t have anything on this either. It’s fast, ugly, brutal, changes it’s riffs and tempo, getting the job done. Perfect mate.

    • Thatguy

      Welcome back, Tom. I was not so impressed by this though.

      • Tom Hardy

        How’s it going Thatguy? No problem at all, mate. We collectively love different kinds of music.

        There’s something very primal about this release and it felt like, from my listening to it over and over, that it grabbed me more each time.

        • Thatguy

          I liked it, just not as much as you, and that’s cool.

          The only taste that drives me to despair is SD’s love of crappy power metal. I just don’t get it, but even there to each is own.

          • Cello? Is it me you’re talking about? Don’t be Thatguy.

          • Tom Hardy

            I hear ya, I mean, to be honest, I can’t listen to ANY Power Metal and if I may be frank with you, it doesn’t bother me at all. There’s no rule to say you have to dig Iron Maiden, at any level, to enjoy the metal you listen to. (I simply use Iron Maiden as an example because they’re one of the big guys aren’t they.)

            So, chin up and carry on Thatguy. I’ll be standing by your side.

          • Thatguy

            Thanks, Tom. And since I am being flayed for not liking the album art of ‘Locust Leaves’, I might say how much I like this album art.

          • Tom Hardy

            Your tastes are saluted.

      • [not a Dr]

        What we really want to know is: what do you think of the band’s pic?

        • Thatguy

          Since you ask – I approve of it with one reservation – obscured faces, indecipherable band shirts, long hair and tats, but I am not sure about the great outdoors in this context. I expected to like the music when I saw it.

          And i do like it – just not as much as Tom H.

    • Name’s Dalton

      There’s my boy. Spot on.

      Anyone heard the new Engulfed? Released a week ago. Really bloody good.

      • Tom Hardy

        Bloody good indeed, I love the drumming and massive sounding production.

        • herrschobel

          and why do you call yourself Tom Hardy ?

    • herrschobel

      what ? MEH Immolation ? what what what ? i mean this is not bad but the last Immolation release is Killer ! Immolation has Identity…this not so much…it´s good …but nothing special about it..tomb mold anyone ? same energy but just better…

      • drug_genosh

        that tomb mold is a ripper and actually leaves a (nasty) taste in your mouth

        • Name’s Dalton

          Agreed on Tomb Mold.

          Love the new Engulfed too.

      • Tom Hardy

        Nobody is here to refute the undeniable identity or influence Immolation have in Deathmetal. They’re genre defining. What I do have a problem with is mediocrity. And it’s okay to put a band you regard as highly as Immolation to the same high standard as one would usually do, no question about it or concessions. And by that token, I could honestly say that the album would work better as an EP, at best, if it had to exist. It’s too long and with a lot of unmemorable songs or parts to songs. Their first 4 albums are neck and neck in terms of quality. This new one doesn’t hold a candle to the lackluster Shadows. Three good tracks, that’s about it, maybe four. What’re they … tracks 3, 7 and 8 and throw in track 4 as good measure for the EP closer and there you go, like fresh strawberries on cheesecake mate, right after some bangers n mash.

        • herrschobel

          well..you obviously thought this through ….good points…still this release above holds no ground against newer Immolation…after listening to it a bit longer than 20 mins i got bored quickly…gonna get some cheesecake later on .. though i prefer sour lime

          • Tom Hardy

            Cheerio mate.

          • Name’s Dalton

            Tom Hardy thinks everything through. Now I quite enjoy the new Immolation, but this Ascended Dead album is delightful in all its glorious filth.

    • ssorg

      YES. this album kills. I almost don’t care if I don’t remember a riff. Every sound is perfectly in place as it’s happening. It kicks like a chainsaw and never lets up. The production has just the right amount of bite. I love this.

  • One More Thing

    The songwriting here comes off as being very novice from where I’m standing. The solos are good and the drummer is capable, but this stuff sounds like they formed their band on Day 1 and then, from Day 2 onward, every riff and drum section that they wrote was kept, and they just continued to piece together similar sounding stuff as it came to them in the moment. There doesn’t appear to be any scrutiny to what they chose to keep and, as a result, nothing (except the solos) really stands out or shines because of how elementary the approach is. They play everything four times and then switch to something very similar that they will play four times before doing it again. This is more of a recorded jam session than a focused full-length. Again, outside the solos, I feel like literally any new death metal band could’ve made this.

    Very solid review, Mr. Muzaka.

  • I like this album. I went through an unfortunate period of life as a fundamentalist Christian and listened to some Christian death metal back in the day. Just compare Ascended Dead’s album cover to Mortification’s self-titled.
    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37b74d49f0b3b4db02a3a9709cb60474fd98198d3c37f095fe79b3d4ffa1be55.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/930f1cd3de4437dc92e79aa50ac12c8316ec73ffd38195f361ef21867b7f7433.jpg

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If you already got over that Christian period and want to listen to some actual great Death Metal, may I recommend Deicide’s first 3 albums.

      • I’m almost a decade past it now! Those three albums are amazing. m/

  • John Mosley

    That album ART!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Looks strangely familiar, reminds me of Pseudogod’s “Deathwomb Catechesis”. Yet I could swear I have seen some other album with extremely similar art, yet can’t pinpoint what album it is.

      • John Mosley

        Letting my nerd hang out… reminds me of Lavos from old SNES game Chrono Trigger meets B horror film Tremors.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Already ordered this and think it’s really good. One of those bad day death metal albums you can put on as a release. Solid 3.5 for me

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Congratulations Diabolus for debunking the “bullshit atmosphere argument”. Like you said, atmosphere ought to compliment quality content, not be the end goal in itself.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I always like it when someone recommends a band that I consider underrated or that should get more attention. So kudos to Diabolus for namedropping Pissgrave.

  • Ivan E. Rection

    You nailed it Diab. Few if any memorable riffs here. Nothing that bands like Pyrexia didn’t do better 20 years ago.

  • Westpaceagle

    The rabble has spoken! Underscored! This album slays!

  • Baraq Obm

    Yep, I’m with a lot of others in this comment section. I like this a lot more than some of the stuff that gets 4.0’s and 4.5’s around here.

  • herrschobel

    no philosophical puns this time ;-) .. good review …but also a good Band !… who can compete with Immolation anyhow these days ? at least in the Death Department ..tough this is at least a solid 3.0….you also reminded me that i should stick to ” because i like violent, loud and brutal” and stop arguing about the musical quality of my Metal…tough it´s obviously there…see Incantation or Immolation.

  • drug_genosh

    Review is pretty spot on except id give it more points for the artwork alone. Sounds like something I’d come back to time to time but never buy. maybe next record

  • AddicoInABox

    This album is pretty awesome. Sorry you don’t like death metal anymore? That’s kinda what I took away from this review