Ascended Dead – Evenfall of the Apocalypse Review

Ascended Dead hail from the San Diego area and despite the region’s nearly perfect climate with endless sunny days, they’re fucking furious and verging on a total nervous breakdown. This results in some of the most over-the-top and feral death metal I’ve heard in a while, and their sophomore outing Evenfall of the Apocalypse is a proper soundtrack for even the most hellish of end times. With Jon Reider and C. Koryn, both formerly of VoidCeremony leading the charge, Ascended Dead take a sturdy OSDM foundation and slather it with dangerously twisted and jagged progressive ideas to arrive at something that sounds like Possessed, Immolation, Pestilence and Morbid Angel put through a batshit insanity filter. You will be shaken up, beaten down, and greatly abused over the course of this album, and your tolerance for merciless and abrasive music will determine how this sits in your newly opened skull. Evenfall…thoughts arrive like carving knives…

The opening salvo of “Abhorrent Manifestation” shapes the battlefield by nuking it into assdust courtesy of frenetic, unhinged riffs that corkscrew and churn in maddeningly unpredictable patterns as vocals from the 12th Level of Hell spew sulfur and bile in your face. If you can imagine Possessed and early Pestilence amped up 100 times and given Angelcorpse serum, you still aren’t getting the complete picture. It’s solidly OSDM but with such a deranged progressive flair and berserk disregard for restraint, it feels like something else altogether. Assuming you stick around long enough, “Ungodly Death” strafes the survivors with uranium-enriched fuel rods and Sarcofago-esque bedlam. This one almost approaches the complete incoherence of South American war metal but it’s so compellingly chaotic, you can’t turn it off. Track after track arrive like freight trains full of Hannibal Lecters, and no quarter or fucks are given. “Bestial Vengeance” is indeed that, with traces of Possessed, Immolation, and Asphyx consumed by the unstable and frenetic energy it wields. “Tantum Bellum” offers crazed Morbid Angel-esque riffs flying about without rhyme or reason, and something like later-era Pestilence’s jazz fusion skittering around the edges of the inferno.

There’s no respite until late in the game when “Passage to Eternity” arrives to showcase the band’s ample technical chops outside of the slaughterhouse. It opens with soft, soothing acoustic plucking and slowly elevates the foreboding and intensity, shifting to delicate Flamenco fingerwork alongside trilling, blistering leads as the mood grows ever darker and more disturbing. It’s beautiful and eerie, captivating and cathartic, and reminds me of something The Chasm might dream up. The title track is the longest piece at 6:35 and every second is overstuffed with hateful, scorching guitar work designed to peel your face off. Despite the maniacal aggression displayed over much of the album’s 41 minutes, the material scatters just enough hooks and melody on top of the boiling rage to give you handholds inside the swirling madness. I wouldn’t call this catchy or accessible, but there’s a quirky sense of melody that shines through the bludgeoning and bloodletting and keeps you hungry for MOAR. That said, the relentless over-the-top MOARness grows exhausting before the album concludes, and it’s a lot to take in one concentrated dose. The production delivers a suitably raw, abrasive guitar tone, but things often become muddy and muddled when the music goes completely nuclear (which is almost always), making things feel even more claustrophobic for better or worse.

I’m impressed with the musicianship here. The sheer abundance of lunatic leads and segways cast off by Jon Reider and Ian Lawrence is stupifying, and the way they shift and tumble from idea to idea is dizzying. At times the transitions are so abrupt as not to qualify for the term “transition,” and this can lead to awkward lurches and abrupt shifts, but for the most part, it sounds like there’s some hideous design to the mayhem. C. Koryn (currently the live drummer for Morbid Angel) puts on an ungodly performance, with light-speed blasting, frantic fills, and insane double bass abuse. At times he sounds automated and inhuman, but there’s real personality in his playing that shines through. Reider’s vocals are a ghastly art form, taking the rasping, raging style of a young Martin van Drunen way further into the realms of mucous and madness. He often sounds like some kind of rabid monstrosity, screaming and bellowing without a trace of humanity, and that suits this remorseless, war-grinding material to the bloody bone.

Evenfall of the Apocalypse is a messy, deranged, and tumultuous cocktail suitable only for those who like their death nasty and traveling at ludicrous speeds. It’s not something I can see spinning as often as something like Rotpit, but when the mood strikes, this will certainly trigger tremendous bloodlust. Between their Abhorrent Manifestation debut and this raging beastie, there’s no denying that Ascended Dead are blessed/cursed with a knack for inventive and oppressively unstable death. Check it out with all due caution.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: May 12th, 2023

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