ACxDC – Satan Is King Review

“First to betray / First to disobey / First to stand up / Against tyranny,” screams Sergio Amalfitano on the title track of ACxDC’s second full-length Satan Is King. Delivered in one breath and against a grindcore wall of seesawing guitars and hammering drum blasts, these first few verses are a distillation of the Los Angeles-based powerviolence quartet. Akin to The Satanic Temple, whose mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense, oppose injustice, and undertake noble pursuits,” the band subverts the idea and imagery of the devil to create a vessel for anti-authoritarian, inherently humanistic ideas. It’s a fairly nuanced approach, at least on paper and especially in a day and age which sees Poe’s law infiltrating all areas of human activity.

But then again, ACxDC—full name Antichrist Demoncore—are anything but subtle. So to make sure that their message is heard loud and clear, they take things a step further, smashing these ambiguous, sophisticated, and abstract notions into a pulp and shoving them down throats. What’s left are sharp, caustic, and unabashedly vicious bits of truth and poisonous tongue-in-cheek propelled by bursts of powerviolence, metallized hardcore, and grindcore. Over the fifteen short songs, the music closely follows these themes. Tailored around their brevity and urgency, it places intense noise explosives around blunt rallying cries. Take the opening “Singe,” for example. In a derisive mimicry of a fade in, it distorts into existence, dragged through filth and laden with feedback. Then, it explodes with rage, launching a myriad of noise shrapnel, only to reassemble itself in the form of a groove. Before you can even figure out what’s going on, we’re onto the next cut as “Mouth Breather” blazes away and overflows into the big, chugging violence of “Gorged.” It’s an exhilarating ride and sequence, repeated at various points on the record, but one that never gets completely caught in a rut.

Standouts like “Turncoat,” “Copsucker,” and “Exercise in Futility” stun and shock with their refreshingly direct musical and lyrical attacks. The songs alternate between faster and slower segments, splitting them up with crunchy breaks. Blast beats and chugging bass lines, courtesy of Jorge Luis Herrera and Ryan James Corbett respectively, undulate, break down, and rise up again sustained by Edward Jason Oropeza’s burning, angry riffs. Amalfitano’s vocal delivery shape-shifts accordingly. His voice becomes his only weapon while he screams in acrimony, as if singing with the last breath he’ll take in this life, while his sputtering inflection is embittered by injustice. Then, just like waking from one nightmare into another, he drops to lower registers and belts out death growls pregnant with fuck yous, warnings, and acts of defiance.

In terms of style, this is music that neither needs to nor can reinvent the wheel. Thus, the band’s fundamental approach has remained similar all the way from their inception in 2003. But other, more important things have changed. Since their last LP, 2014’s Antichrist Demoncore, the band has built up confidence, purpose, and an even more combative voice. No doubt helped by the striking social regression going on around them and the precarious position of Latinx and other minorities, their focus is now razor-sharp. They are angrier. More direct. Aiming for the throat, no matter what.

Like Dawn Ray’d and others in Prosthetic Records’ roster, ACxDC’s music and themes are as relevant today as they’ve ever been. While many may decry their aggressive and oftentimes savage approach, it feels needed. Unavoidable. When reflected in the music, it makes for acutely emotional and primal songwriting and renditions that materialize innermost fears and sentiments, balancing breakdowns with murderous chaos. Add to that a cleaner, slightly more polished production, and Satan Is King becomes the band’s best, most personal, and unequivocally affecting release to date.


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: acxdc.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/acxdc
Releases Worldwide: May 15th, 2020

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