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There comes a time in my metal listening week where I crave something a little more ‘filthy’ in sound. A lot of modern metal acts are incredibly spot-on with their musicianship and production values – check out the tightness of the latest ‘Lamb of God’ and ‘ Caliban’ – all props to them. However, as much as I love listening to these bands I always find it refreshing to immerse myself in a sound that is ‘less-processed’ (for want of a better description). Old school Black Metal often does the trick – and for this week at least, so does Canada’s ‘Axis of Advance’.
I make no assumptions that everyone reading this has heard of AoA. Those who do know them already own this album. For me, AoA are the replacement for the legendary and now defunct death metal act, Angel Corpse. Now, AoA are nowhere near the mighty AC in terms of pulling off their signature ‘whirlwind’ style pacing, but as far as emanating their gloomy, foreboding malevolence, AoA are in the same league. AoA also play a different kind of extreme metal – more like raw black/thrash (some call it ‘War Metal’) than death metal per se, but the overall feeling is the same – dark and uncompromising.
‘Obey’ is the follow up to 2002’s ‘The List’. Personally, the new one doesn’t sound a whole lot different, but I can’t deny the intent. This is raw, fast and highly chaotic black/thrash – its sole purpose is to tear you a new arsehole and destroy the human race. It may not achieve the latter (which is probably its main objective looking at the press release propaganda) but it’ll make a fair impression on the former. The production is simply perfect for this kind of hectic extremity. The riffs are ugly, the solos demented, the bass thick and booming in the bottom of the mix. Holding the whole project together is the highly dynamic drumming of James Read (also of Conqueror and Revenge) and the ‘Pete Helmkamp (Angel Corpse)’-like vocals of their frontman (who’s name I have no access to).
Fans of harsh extreme Black/Death/thrash/War metal will appreciate the sonic fury that AoA have dealt out on ‘Obey’. There are some slower moments where AoA attempt to explore a doomier, foreboding atmosphere however, for the most part (and particularly because of Read’s influence) this is 95% flat-stick mayhemic destruction. Lyrically, I can’t really comment as none were supplied – but with a title like ‘Obey’ and song titles such as ‘Revolution Decimation’ and ‘Wrath Pounding’ there is enough evidence to suggest that this album is heavily ‘human race’ oriented - Survival or Extinction?? I know where I’m laying my money.
Axis of Advance are not the greatest act to come out of Canada, but it’s important to realize that there are others acts besides ‘Voi Vod, Kataklysm and Devin Townsend’ making their mark. As far as the extreme underground community is concerned, Axis of Advance will cause quite a stir. Recorded in Malmö, Sweden at Berno Studio with Henrik Larsson at the helm, fans of old Angel Corpse will rejoice at the belligerent anarchy captured on ‘Obey’ - Violent, harsh and unforgiving.