Dawn of Azazel The Tides of Damocles 01Readers already familiar with my preferences will recall that on multiple occasions I have referenced Ulcerate as both pioneers of the growing experimental and dissonant death metal trend and the most creative band since Meshuggah. Bold words indeed, (pun intended), but in truth, Ulcerate‘s last three albums have been so excellent that I had to update the seal of approval I placed on them to a walrus. Pinniped mass shaming aside, one has to wonder whether New Zealand harbors any other interesting island endemics, and if so what similarities they share with The Destroyers of All. It’s a bit unfair to measure Dawn of Azazel using Ulcerate as your yardstick, given that DoA‘s The Law of the Strong predates Of Fracture and Failure by three years; both bands got their start around the turn of the century and started releasing in the mid-2000s. Yet there’s definitely some cross-pollination going on between the two bands, and no matter what direction it’s coming from, I consider it a very good thing.

The Tides of Damocles may be this year’s first truly good brutal death album. It’s heavier than whatever you bench, smarter than the world’s foremost deathcore scholar, and more punishing than Steel Druhm‘s Banhammer. Dawn of Azazel knows damn well how to groove, blast, and slam their way through a prog-death album, and on top of that have varied a 48-minute slab of brutality enough that it’s not a pain in the ass to listen to. “Irresistible Foe” capitalizes on all of this, playing off of a couple fantastic grooves and introducing its end with an Altar of Plagues-style clipped lurch. “Vassalplasty” follows this up with, in its own words, ‘precise aggression and controlled chaos.’ Though these songs don’t have extremely complex or abnormal structures, they’re able to retain a distinctively progressive feeling. In “Controlled Burn” – one of the best-named songs I’ve seen this year – the band tramples through melodeath chord progressions and into a Gojira-esque instrumental cage match and then ends up right back where they started, with Rigel Walshe growling out ‘Let it burn, let it burn! Let it burn on and on!’ underneath your own half-assed rendition of the lyrics. Even the breakdowns in this album are great, though hard to come by. “Progeny of Pain” ends with a slamming vitriol that’s sure to injure some pit-dwellers, and the same goes for the finale of “Vassalplasty.”

Over the course of this album Dawn of Azazel flaunts neighboring influences more and more. “The Eagles Grasp” opens with a riff that can only be described as “Tasmanian,” bringing back fond memories of the last time you listened to “The Colour of Sleep.” There’s a slight Ulcerate vibe to a lot of early-album songs, but closer “Tarnished Gold” takes the cake for Ulcer-aping and is all the better for it. Jeremy Suckling steps up his Jamie St Merat impression with a lot of interesting cymbal work and prodigious blasting, and the guitars begin rotting away in doomy riffs and suffocating atmospheric leads. It’s a somewhat predictable ending, but no less impactful than other songs.

Dawn of Azazel The Tides of Damocles 02

On top of the consistently rewarding songcraft and very tight performances from the trio, The Tides of Damocles sounds quite good, with great bass presence throughout and a very even-handed mix that hits hard but doesn’t give your eardrums hell. Every song is as good alone as it is next to its neighbors, and you can actually listen to the LP all the way through a few times without significant fatigue. That cover is pretty easy on the eyes as well; a complete package if there ever was one.

Be sure to carve some time out of the Sigh binge-listening you’ll be engaging in this week and give Tides of Damocles a good twice or thrice over. I was wrong about waiting for the new Wormed album for your fix of grade-A brutality. Tides is a cut so savory you’ll want to eat it raw.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 319 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: DawnofAzazelOfficial | Facebook.com/DawnofAzazel
Release Dates: Out Worldwide 04.27.2015

  • AndySynn

    Looking forward to this a lot… something to add to the Ulcerate/Nero di Marte/Rivers of Nihil/Ageless Oblivion axis that I currently have perforating my eardrums on rotation.

    • Andy, that Nihil record is indeed outstanding. Perhaps a year end contender.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Alex, I thought I’d check out Rivers of Nihil (whom I’ve never heard of before), but their most recent album as far as I can Google, is The Conscious Seed of Light from 2013. That can’t be the one you’re referring to (“[p]erhaps a year end contender”), or is it?

        On the other hand, Metal Archives has quite a number of bands called “Nihil”….?

        • Patience…

          • Monsterth Goatom


  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great review, Kronos, with a crisp and dynamic writing style.

    I think the band photo is among the best this year.

    • Kronos

      Agreed, quite stylish.

    • You surely mean if you disregard the the track shorts?
      (Also yeah, review is very nice.)

  • Tom Hardy

    Listening to the preview track and here are my thoughts – after over 2 mins of riffs that go nowhere, you’re then treated with an ultimately flacid metalcore/ djenty breakdown riff towards the end furthering their apology for wasting your time. That track alone doesn’t make me want to listen to the full album and I listened to it twice just to be sure before I head out for a press conference. You don’t have to wait for the new Wormed, which will be good I bet. There’s a good amount of other good brutal death metal out there already.

    The difference between both debuts is that Of Fractures easily trumps. Albeit there’s a certain charm to jizzing on the metal scene first, if it ain’t as good, it don’t matter.

    Is this the best song on the album?

    • Kronos

      I’m betting it wouldn’t be your favorite.

      • Tom Hardy

        That’s a shame. The cover art’s nice.

        Let’s chat about Ulcerate for a bit then. What’s your favorite or least favorite record from em?

        • Kronos

          In order, Destroyers of All, Everything is Fire, Vermis, Of Fracture & Failure. Anything before Everything is Fire didn’t quite work for them, which is something that, to my understanding, the band agrees with me on.

          • Tom Hardy

            Sorry for the delay, it’s been a busy time with Max releasing, press conferences, other bull on the side and more press for my new film – Legend. Trailers came out last night I think, looks a bit stylish if I may say so.

            Nice order. A bit different to mine. I’ve always been a fan of riffs. Good riffs. Ulcerate had a lot of them in the past and now they’re few and far between. They’ve relied too heavy on their drone style sound and things have been, for no better way to say it, repetitive in a way that hurts the band, as far as I’m concerned. I was in the thick of Max’s shoot and we were in the desert waiting for a sunset sequence. We all had our pocket compasses and it would fidget all day, swirling about as if to tell us it were confused but every once in a while it would stop fiddling with us and stay put, showing us the way. This would go on for about a week, fooking annoying. My point is, newer Ulcerate is often too droney, meandering like that goddamn compass when occasionally it’d become something good. Fracture was straightforward, rifftastic while still carrying their signature sound. Fire put a stamp on that sound, evolving it to different space or floor so to speak, a little lower level I might add and everything the band has done since is on that same floor. Well champ, that’s my order.

  • jebwallabingbong

    Boring album imo, the songwriting feels tame especially compared to say the latest Sulphur Aeon album. Cracking cover art though

    • Tom Hardy

      And that Sulphur Aeon is ordinary-borderline boring to begin with, so imagine this.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Now you have my permission to die.

  • Thatguy

    The embedded track does not tempt me to listen further – the vocal line has the rhythm of a nursery rhyme

    Interesting review, but there is nothing as interesting as Ulcerate going on here by a very long way

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    I’m not biased (in my opinion) but the beginning to the second paragraph was the best series of references I’ve ingested this year.

    Great work as always, Kronos. Really getting a Rivers of Nihil vibe from the promo track, though that may be more due to the production than anything.

    • Kronos

      I’m really out there has a high enough IQ to understand me.

  • Noobhammer

    Maybe the whole album is better, but for me personally, the preview track just didn’t grip me. I’m sure there are a bunch of kids who will get a kick out of it, sadly, many of them may be the Hot Topic crowd.

    Honestly, I’m still entrenched in the new Nightwish. That album is just flat out amazing, and I hope to get a chance to read a review of it here. All you guys’ writing is amazing, and actually inspiring to me to improve my writing /reviewing style.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I really wish bands would think twice about lyric videos…
    Listening to the embedded song is akin to having someone yell nonsense at you for 3 1/2 minutes…

    • Kronos

      Could be worse.
      Could be slam.

      • Tom Hardy

        At least slam would sound more interesting/ fun mate.

  • Worldeater

    At first i thought this sounds a bit like schönberg automaton … but they lost me at 0:56. The lyrics were not a scrap of help. Anywho nice review, Kronos = drawn interest.

    • Kronos

      Speaking of which: any day now, Guys.

  • darksvn

    Unfortunately, pretty boring/repetitive. There are pieces of it that I like but it just feels so generic.