All Out War – Celestial Rot Review

One thing I discover in the promo sump every now and then is the longevity of random bands I’ve never heard of. While many one-man black metal projects working out of their respective mom’s basements rear corpse-painted faces, I certainly did not expect a metalcore band to fall into this category. It is a bit of a coincidence to me that Newburgh, New York veterans All Out War comes on the heels of my last 2022 TYMHM, Geneva’s Nostromo, because all the hallmarks are there.

As such, if you read “metalcore” and worried you might need to bust out the We Came as Romans Warped Tour t-shirt from 2006, black Vans, and black hair dye, and make a beeline to the nearest Hot Topic, put those qualms to rest: Celestial Rot is content blasting your face off. No emo cleans or electronic flourishes in sight, All Out War, like the Swiss veterans Nostromo, Ringworm, or sister act The Third Kind, specializes in grindy metallic hardcore with a few metalcore breakdowns sprinkled on top for good measure. With their eighth full-length Celestial Rot, however, the promo promises more influences of black and death metal – and they do not disappoint. Wrapped up in a viciously brief twenty minutes, it feels more hardcore or grind than metalcore, but y’know, I can use more caustic beatdowns in my life.

All Out War is indeed as corrosive and pummeling as its scorched-earth name suggests. Member contributions combine for maximum vitriol: Mike Score’s unhinged performance in both sinister shrieks and commanding barks, and guitarists Andrew Pietroluongo and Taras Apuzzo’s vicious tremolo and caustic leads, while Eric Carrillo’s punishing bass provides devastating depth and Jesse Sutherland’s manic percussion exchanges relentless blastbeats, punk rhythms, and rabid fills. It’s a wild ride, albeit a predictable one. While “Glorious Devastation” and the title track are relatively straightforward blends of grind intensity, hardcore punk simplicity, and thrash tempo, opener “Snake Legion” and closer “Horrid Shroud of Heaven” are ominous, blackened blastbeat-and-tremolo fests, the groove and punk exchange of “Wrath” and “Hideous Disdain” is infectious, while the suffocating death metal riffs of “The End is Always Here” elevate the sound. All Out War uses ghostly melodies and plucking atop a breakdown in “Revel in Misery” atop pummeling death and black metal influence, making the track an easy highlight and creating otherworldly implications. Score’s unhinged vocal attack also betters the sound overall and makes the slower passages more palatable, as his formidable range drips with charisma and sinister weight.

The main issue with Celestial Rot is its predictability. All Out War utilizes the same formula for every track, and it can begin to wear in spite of its brief runtime. Take “Snake Legion,” for example. It opens feeling like a blackened hardcore track a la Hexis, to continue its blastbeats and heavy tremolo akin to Black Breath, then slows down to a crunchy Hatebreed-esque breakdown to conclude the track. Across the eleven tracks, while the first half of each track exchanges hardcore punk, black metal, and death metal, each track concludes with a breakdown that slows things down. While this trick can feel like a moment of punishing clarity in “Snake Legion” or “Wrath,” overuse results in robbed energy by the time “Hideous Disdain” comes around. With black and death metal now players in the game, breakdowns feel like overly simplistic tricks compared to the intensity imbued in “Weaving Oblivion” or “Hideous Disdain.” Similarly, because of its melody, “Revel in Misery” is a highlight, but the sudden solo and atmospherics makes it a jarring inclusion to the harrowing and simplistic punishment that surrounds it.

To their credit, All Out War’s decision to borrow from more extreme styles sets them apart from the Integrity worshipers. With black and death in their arsenal and an absolute maniac at the mic, Celestial Rot finds itself in far darker and better territory that reflects its sinister title. For the most part, it works. Overly simplistic songwriting works against its brief runtime, leading to tiresome and predictable tricks. Breakdowns, as per the metalcore cliché, only work in select tracks, while killing the momentum in others. Even so, All Out War manages an energetic and vitriolic offering that shows, in spite of their flaws, they aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Translation Loss
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 3rd, 2023

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