Antichrist Siege Machine – Purifying Blade Review

Antichrist Siege Machine - Purifying Blade 01Antichrist Siege Machine paints the gates of metal with the blood of Christendom. Subtlety is not their strongest trait. Berserk and bludgeoning attacks, void of humanity, are at the core of this Virginian duo’s battering ram. Antichrist Siege Machine’s debut full-length, 2019’s Schism Perpetration, kick-started their brainless siege against nuance. The record is 28-minutes of celestial warfare fetishization. Blazing chariots rip through flesh, worshipers are disemboweled on altars, Satan opens up his fiery pit wherever he pleases, and a general state of empyrean slaughter is captured through deep, churning metal. The war against Christendom is unrelenting and Antichrist Siege Machine has spotted another chance for carnage. Purifying Blade is their second full-length, a thirty-minute gallop through the gates of the believer.

Without getting into a separate cosmic war about the differences between the various genres, ASM’s sound settles in the grubby ground between black metal, war metal, death metal, and grind. Purifying Blade’s is bowel deep and writhing, a stygian tapeworm laced in poison and driving ASM’s vessel with fury. On a first experience, Purifying Blade shrouds a listener in a thick, bass-heavy, blast-laden ooze, aided by vocal shrieks delivered from the gut. Where black metal usually shimmers with a sharper dexterity, ASM’s blackened melange has a muscular bullheadedness. Purifying Blade is impressively unrelenting, aided by its claustrophobic density and chaotic shards of feedback and noise.

The guitar tone that Ryan Zell achieves is that of the hellfire-laced chainsaw. The way his guitar cuts through the spiraling, crusty noise of “Carried into Darkness” is instantly arresting. The core riffs seem to find a way to fill every gap in Purifying Blade. As pure sound, ASM has captured the carnage of celestial war proficiently and the frequent squeal, spiral and slide, perhaps overused, bridges deep riff to deeper riff. As the solitary riffmaker, Ryan Zell’s approach is commendable although there’s little variety across the board, sometimes hampered by a lack of bass support. S.B., drummer and vocalist, maintains a guttural snarl, somewhere between black and death and his drumming is a manic surge that attempts to fill every gap in the music. Unfortunately, the vocals don’t cut through as potently as they could; the occasionally higher-pitched rasp or deeper guttural could have provided a greater sense of elasticity to a record that mainly sticks to one tone.

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Occasions of variety come in the form of holding back. Grooves and spaces between the noise are rare, but the occasional saunter into clearer vistas of chugging, headbang worthy death metal – in “Defiled in Iniquity” and “(To Be Sooner) Broken By Pain” especially – are welcome inclusions. The opening tracks of Purifying Blade are a maelstrom of dense noise but the second half settles into a saunter. Like the fatigued warrior, ASM begins to construct movements more tactically and tactfully. Dissonance and noise are invigorating in small doses but a counterbalance of more accessible, simple, and sordid riffs helps to root ASM’s sound to reality. Beyond this, Purifying Blade does little else. It does not need to do anything else, however. This is fight music for metalhead LARPers who wear bullet belts to the supermarket, rub mud into their faces, and hold big guns up to cameras in a faux-menacing fashion. Though I enjoyed the incessant blasts, incessant swirling guitar noise, incessant everything, there’s little here that rouses me to excitable levels. In general, this style of black-death metal is defined by its restrictiveness. Its goal is to be blunt. It does not want to appease a listener. At the same time, this makes it difficult to rate, for it exists in its own intense bubble of heaviness.

Purifying Blade might be a 5.0/5.0 if I only listened to it on abnormally large speakers as I run, covered in mud and fake blood, through my local park with an airgun. However, as it stands, Purifying Blade doesn’t warrant multiple listens. There are more epic, vast approaches to this sort of thing in Diocletian and Mitochondrian, more impenetrable and twisted in Teitanblood and Impetuous Ritual, and more groovy and vicious in Revenge and Bolt Thrower (who aren’t even trying to be evil). Antichrist Siege Machine exists in the middle of all this – a bludgeoning warrior that serves its own purpose: to kill.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 8th, 2021

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