Allfather – A Violent Truth Review

Nobody panic, but I’ve picked up Allfather, a band previously reviewed by the illustrious Mark Z. Awarding his 2018 AotY to the fantastic And All Will Be Desolation, he wrote “big burly riffs, gruff vocals, and rhythms that deftly shift to ensure heads will always be banged … the most purely metal thing I heard this year. Every moment feels like one you want to show your friends, while the lyrics are empowering, mature, and all too applicable to today’s world.” You know it’s good when it appeals to both me and Mark, and a description like that is a tough act to follow to say the least. After five years where everything has gone just great, A Violent Truth finds Allfather more pissed off than ever. Is this the energy they need to top AAWBD?

A Violent Truth doesn’t mark a dramatic stylistic departure.1 All the elements that made AAWBD great are here. This is furious, thundering sludge with strong elements of Crowbar and High On Fire. Riffs shift and flow from ponderous, weighty doom to driven, galloping bursts of energy. The vocals are huge and span from a gruff roar to a bitter scream. The songwriting spans from the straightforward, thumping rage of “Poison Soil” to the progressive, shifting (but no less angry) “Take Their Eyes.” When they really go for it (“Cast Off the Cross”), listening to AVT is an absolute hammering, and to the extent that it lets up, it’s a light bruising to prepare for the next real assault.

So if all the bits are there, why don’t I love it like AAWBD? That comparison is part of the problem, of course. A Violent Truth hews close enough stylistically that it’s hard not to compare, and pretty much everything that’s changed has done so for the worse. AAWBD hit me in the progressive heart. The deft twists of songwriting—the deceptively catchy riffs, the songs that shift and develop and call back to themselves. The titanic 11-minute closer “Lampedusa,” with its folky opening, doomy first part, QotSA rock break, and face-melting final solo. That spirit is here on parts of AVT, such as the aforementioned “Take Their Eyes,” but it’s only parts. The chugging riff that opens “Poison Soil” is appropriately bludgeoning, but then it never goes anywhere interesting. “Black Lungs” and “The Hunt Infernal” have their moments, but as Mark wrote, the good moments on the last record were all the moments.

And AVT is short—at five real songs and 27 minutes, this is scraping the EP/LP boundary. With that little time to play with, you just can’t afford filler, but it has a weirdly slippery grasp on its own momentum. It doesn’t really hit its stride until the third track, and then the following track is interlude “A False Peace.” Right after that, “The Hunt Infernal” fumbles its pacing with a drony bridge. The album ends with a fade-out, which always feels like a cop-out. A slightly flat production doesn’t help. Everyone in the band turns in as great a performance as ever. The vocals are varied and expressive, and the smart drums elevate the riffs. It’s just all a little less than the sum of its parts.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a good album on its own merits. “Take Their Eyes” is an absolute banger; Allfather still bring the RIFFS. I still love the message. Even the weaker moments are good, and I thoroughly enjoy the whole album. It’s just frustrating when you know the band can do better, and I’ve been absolutely incapable of removing it from that context. Ultimately, And All Will Be Desolation crossed a divide for me; normally I would read a Mark Z. review and simply lament not being cool enough to enjoy that sort of thing. A Violent Truth is good, but if I wasn’t already a fan, it wouldn’t have hauled me kicking and screaming into the land of riffs in the same way.

Rating: Good
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: PCM
Label: Trepanation Recordings
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 31st, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. Despite me reviewing it, they haven’t suddenly cheered up and turned into a Fellowship soundalike.
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