If the conversations I’ve seen on the interwebs are any indication, 2018 hasn’t been the greatest year for metal. In that regard, Allfather’s new album should come with an apology. Sorry for breaking your fucking necks, the sticker would read. But we had to remind you what good metal is all about. This British quintet already ravaged my eardrums with their 2016 debut Bless the Earth with Fire, which basically sounded like High on Fire infused with hardcore swagger and a whole lot of whoop-ass. In other words, that album brought the fucking RIFFS. But it also had enough memorable songs and incendiary conviction to make Allfather one of the most promising new bands I heard that year. Sophomore album And All Will Be Desolation reveals the true nature of that promise: to make an album so heavy, it will rip your face off and make the rest of your body implode like a black hole.
You know those parts of songs that come maybe once or twice an album? Those parts you fast forward to so you can show them to your friends? I’d tell you to imagine an album full of those, but Desolation makes it so you don’t have to. Take the best parts of High on Fire and Crowbar, add in some hardcore punk energy, punch yourself in the face, and that’ll give you some idea of what Allfather are about. These seven tracks deal in burly riffs, rocking attitude, and stomping groove that could put Mantar out of business. Factor in the gruff roars of vocalist “Tom”1 and you have a formula that any red-blooded metal fan is sure to enjoy.
Opener “Black Triangle” begins with an extended acoustic intro before electric guitars slam in like a cinderblock to the skull. Between its melodic verse riff, doomy midsection, and crushing grooves, it’s a powerful start that showcases Allfather’s dynamic blend of sludge and hardcore. “Citadels” follows with a thrashy, cruising riff before concluding with what’s possibly the most headbangable two minutes ever recorded. Doctors agree: if you don’t bob your head to this section, you are legally dead.2 The riffs and groove here are downright monolithic, and it’s made all the better by what are possibly the most metal lyrics ever: “Instead of burning bridges/And raising citadels/We should be burning flags/And raising fucking hell!”
As “Citadels” shows, it’s not just the riffs that make Desolation succeed. Often the drums will shift into different beats over the same riff, changing the feel and maximizing neck snapping potential. Likewise, the album has plenty of variety and impeccable flow. “Lord Betrayer” and “Jackal’s Night” are shorter, snappy cuts with fist-pumping refrains, while “By Sword, By Famine, By Plague” recalls Black Sabbath’s eponymous song with its doom metal-turned-bouncy rocker formula. “Inherit the Dust” mixes it up further with its Southern-fried doom metal approach, sounding like if Saturnus had a younger brother who moved to New Orleans and rented the same practice space as Eyehategod. It’s a welcome change that sets the scene for the colossal 11-minute closer “Lampedusa.” Beginning with a folky opening that recalls an old sea shanty, “Lampedusa” shuffles through rocking riffs before concluding with triumphant chords and climaxing with a guitar solo that could rock the heavens. Through it all, the clear production makes the guitars roar with life and ensures every riff is conveyed with full unapologetic force.
My only complaints here are quibbles — the acoustic interlude of “Black Triangle” is unnecessary and hinders the song’s buildup, and the lumbering first half of “By Sword” goes on a tad too long. But even in these moments, a great idea is always right around the corner. Listening to Desolation is like someone shoving a power drill into every orifice and turning them all on simultaneously, and I mean that in the best way possible. At once explosive and smoldering, Allfather have improved upon their already excellent formula by making things more energetic, more memorable, and more of a blast to listen to than anything else I’ve heard this year. Normally I’d namedrop similar bands and tell fans of them to check this out. In this case, my recommendation is more simple: any metal fan needs to hear this, because And All Will Be Desolation could very well be the best metal album we see in 2018.