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Only way to describe the production is "unjust" - 35%

schuler, December 11th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Greyhaze Records (Digipak)

Like I assume a number of other Warfather listeners, I came for Steve Tucker. I loved Steve's work with Morbid Angel on his first three albums (he's since returned for the stellar Kingdoms Disdained, which incidentally enough, isn't without its own production flaws), and I was excited to hear his vocals on Nader Sadek's In The Flesh. I heard Warfather's sophomore record, The Grey Eminence, last year when it was released, and I thought it was a solid slab of tech-leaning, traditional death metal. I recently got curious about Warfather's first LP, and after running it down last week, I wish I'd left it alone.

I'm a band loyalty guy. Sometimes I wish I wasn't, honestly, but that's just how it is. If I love a band, or the prior work of certain members of a band, I can pretty much talk myself into, if not enjoying, at least not loathing anything they put out. Having said all that, I think I've found my limit with Orchestrating The Apocalypse; this is one of the worst sounding production jobs I've ever heard in an act that contains seasoned death metal veterans. There's no low end whatsoever. The drums are crackly and loud as hell. Some of the songs end so abruptly (like, without letting cymbals ring out) that it sounds like it was a mistake instead of an intentional move. Steve's vocals are the only thing with any real depth or ferocity, but when the rest of the band sounds this ridiculously thin, that's not saying much. What the hell happened here?

Doing my best to look past the mix, I managed to find, as expected, some damn solid riffs and arrangements here. "My Queen Shall Not Be Mourned" and "The Shifting Poles" have the unavoidable, but still totally enjoyable, Formulas-era Morbid Angel flavor you'd expect from anything Steve does. There's some subtle orchestral arrangement on the actual songs that adds more depth and melody than would be there without it, but again, the weakness of the mix robs it of any real power. There are some pretty cool interlude tracks, too, and they feel less like filler and more like organic segues between songs that incorporate their themes. "Ageless, Merciless" sees Steve doing some Deicide-style high/low vocal layering that's actually a pretty good fit for him. The lyrics are brutal, and Steve's delivery is impeccable. But, again, man, there's only so much enjoyment you can get out of any band when their final mix sounds as awful as this.

I love Steve Tucker's work. I love Morbid Angel. I love Warfather's second record, and I love Steve's album with Nader Sadek. Support Warfather and buy their second record; the mix is exceptionally thick and punchy, almost as if to make up for how terrible this album turned out. I'm hoping that one day Greyhaze reissues Orchestrating The Apocalypse with a muscular new remix. The song quality, the musician talent, and the performance intensity is definitely there. It's just victimized by a criminally amateur, bullshit recording job.

Tucker's not quite so glorious return... - 60%

LeastWorstOption, August 28th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Greyhaze Records (Digipak)

It took Steve Tucker about a decade to launch his post-Morbid Angel project. While his tenure with Morbid Angel met its fair share of criticism (some of which was completely substantial and founded), his new international project Warfather is marred by faults of its own, be the inconsistent songwriting or a rather unflattering production. “Orchestrating the Apocalypse” is an adequate traditional death metal effort with its heart in the right place, but given his stature (and the collective experience present in the line-up) that simply won’t cut it anymore. That the very same ailments that crippled his swansong with Morbid Angel are present here once again, makes one wonder whether the project was rushed to completion, and if so: why? There’s certainly room for improvement, but this could, no, should have been such much more than it is – and it is a pity to see a promising new death metal unit not reaching its promised potential.

Warfather is led by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Steve Tucker, along with scene veteran and former Sinister vocalist Eric de Windt (he appeared on the band’s divisive 1998 album “Aggressive Measures”) behind the drums. Filling the remaining positions are bass guitarist and backing vocalist slot Felipe Augusto (a Brazilian national appearing under the stage name Avgvstvs) and a masked guitarist known as Armatura. Only Tucker uses his civilian name as skinsman de Windt goes by the stage name Deimos in this project. There’s certainly no shortage of talent nor experience within this constellation. For an international unit the quartet sounds incredibly tight-knit and together, both in songwriting as in actual performance. What it lacks in punch and bite due to an overly dry and sterile production it makes up in actual engrossing songwriting. “Orchestrating the Apocalypse” reflects its key members’ experience and expertise, and while the lack of weight and oomph is detrimental to the overall presentation of the product the passionate songwriting redeems its glaring technical shortcomings. The martial and unearthly atmosphere that many of the songs hold hasn’t been heard in quite some time in both established - and underground bands in this genre. Warfather isn’t about instrumental wizardry - but honesty, integrity and passion above all else.

While the production completely robs Warfather of its concrete impact and bottom-end heaviness, the songwriting is an interesting mix of older and modern forms of death metal. The primary influences seem to be the expected Morbid Angel and early Deicide, but the strongest material recalls “In Their Darkened Shrines” era Nile, “Choronzonic Chaos Gods” Centurian and middle era Behemoth (“Pandemonic Incantations” onto “Demigod” era) while the wonderful guitar work is reminiscent of Death’s later works. The solo’ing itself is especially worth the price of admission as it done with sophistication and finesse, dripping with emotion through out the myriad leads that appear on the album. Tucker’s vocals are as venomous and bellowing as they have always been, but they too appear to be robbed off their inborn power due to the questionable production choices. The drumming is traditional, and refrains from constant blasting instead relying on thrashing beats and creative fills. This is no doubt thanks to the old school sensibilities of de Windt who cut his teeth with Sinister at the tall end of its creative high mark. “Orchestrating the Apocalypse” consists of 9 original songs, and 3 fairly inconsequential atmospheric instrumentals of varying lengths. Why most of these instrumental segues weren’t incorporated into the songs they introduce is a question worth asking as neither of them even reach the one minute mark.

The biggest strike against “Orchestrating the Apocalypse” is its proof-of-concept demo production job. The vocal production is more than commendable, but the guitar sound - while retaining that much needed crunchiness - lacks all sorts of weight and heft. The bass guitar is completely inaudible at any given time, which is a missed opportunity to say the least. One can only imagine what this record would have sounded like with a meaty, thundering bass guitar tone reminiscent of Gorefest’s “Erase”, any Bolt Thrower and Death record, Demilich’s very bass-centric “Nespithe” or Marduk’s booming “Nightwing”. The drums sound sterile and processed with rather flat sounding toms, and impotent, clicky sounding kickdrums that provide no meaningful bottom end heaviness whatsoever. All the instruments sound decent enough on their own, but the whole never gels into a unified sound. Next to that there’s no weight to any of it, which is a major shortcoming for a traditional death metal band like this. The album was recorded and mixed at TME Studios, and mastered at Maor Applebaum Mastering – so there wasn’t any shortage of resources or talent to make this sound fuller than what ended up on the finished product. If only it had been recorded at Sonic Ranch Studio (Texas), Nightsky Studio (Maryland), Studio One (Wisconsin), Audiohammer (Florida) or Californian facilities such as Castle Ultimate, Fantasy Studio, Trident or Sharkbite Studio. The biomechnical artwork by Irish artist Ken Coleman perfectly fits the band’s traditional yet modern sound. It is somewhat reminiscent of the late H.R. Giger’s work. The grotesque (vaguely human looking) deformity is intertwined with unearthly technology in a vista that is both horrifying as it is fascinating. That it avoids both the tired and expected gore/horror and blasphemic connotations usually related to this genre is a definite plus.

“Orchestrating the Apocalypse” is a commendable return for both Tucker and de Windt. It is a pity that the unflattering bassless production robs what are essentially good songs off their intended power and nuance. That Warfather refrains from playing at constant high speed is a bold move, as most of the death metal scene for some reason is still obsessed outplaying each other in terms of sheer speed. Thankfully Warfather remembers that death metal isn’t about speed, but about engaging songwriting. The record isn’t going to reinvent the wheel, and instead relies on conventions of the genre to sell its wares. There aren’t any arbitrary sound experiments, or left field excesses to be found on this album, and that is ultimately its biggest strength. Hopefully by the time its second album is released Warfather will have duly rectified its production problems to unleash a truly massive and commanding death metal effort that it rightly deserves. For a debut record “Orchestrating the Apocalypse” is far from bad, but one can’t shake the impression that this could, no, should have been so much more powerful than it is.

Review originally written for Least Worst Option -

This apocalypse was orchestrated in production - 68%

slayrrr666, April 8th, 2014

The debut offering from Steve Tucker’s new band death/black metal act Warfather, “Orchestrating the Apocalypse,” offers up a competent array of riffs that are decent enough for what they are but fail to really make a lasting mark beyond the production problems present.

Being much more than a typical blackened death metal act, this group carries it back a little further in time to mix the two styles in a rather old-school manner. This is best demonstrated in the drumming throughout the album, which manages to work the tight, brutal tones of the earlier bands who blurred the lines between the two genres quite effectively throughout this effort, producing a dynamic quite similar to the earliest Floridian bands that attempted this style as it unleashes a ravenous swarm of brutal blasts, hyper-speed rhythms and a total onslaught of vicious fills and tones that are far more intense and vicious than expected in this kind of old-school worship which adds a touch of modernity to the proceeds. Fitted between the same type of patterns and touches that were part of those early efforts does allow them a sense of expansiveness to the material as the more blast-heavy segments do coincide with the more extreme riff-work than what their elder influences attempted. Rather than extrapolating the thrash riff-work with really intense chugs that the original death metal scene was built upon, these guys instead employ a tight, frantic series of riffing patterns that are far more brutal in terms of deep-end picking as well as the furious energy that develops with a rather intense amount of tight chugging patterns that emerges in this one for the more extreme segments while a more traditional approach to black metal emerges with a generous amount of tremolo-picked melodies that flows throughout the whole album and gives it a dab of both extreme musical styles quite frequently. Those tremolo melodies aren’t the focal point of the music the way the intense chugging does which, along with the deep vocal grunts, keeps this squarely in the death metal camp with slight touches of black metal in the occasional riffing pattern or sporadic ambient keyboard note that pops up in more than expected. Frankly, that adds much more of a black metal feel than the riffing does anyway, so there’s yet another modern touch amidst the old-school offerings on display. Still, throughout the whole album nothing is more demonstrative of the old-school feel like the songs’ construction, which occasionally dabbles in intros but prefers to start off immediately blasting away more often than not and focuses that intense blasting energy throughout the album to the absolute lack of choruses and offering very few solos despite featuring a lot of guitar leads in the aftermath so they’re not stuck in the trappings of modern clichés but instead provide plenty to like for those that enjoy the older-era material.

Frankly, the album is pretty similar to each other in terms of how it’s constructed. The songs are given a rather similar feel throughout that makes it next to impossible to determine where you are in the running order, beyond the inclusion of three forgettable and utterly unneeded intro tracks that could’ve been melded into the preceding track as they serve as perfect seg-ways for the track anyway. That in essence drops the album into nine traditional tracks with the three breaks, and while it’s not an impossible feat dealing with the songs as they are now trying to find where you are with nine similar tracks makes for a more manageable task without dealing with those extra interludes which barely crack thirty seconds anyway. Having those nine tracks all based on similar patterns and rhythms does make for a rather hard task as it is for there’s very little variety within this since it does have a few minor tempo changes or chord progressions within but none of it with any sense of dynamics or extraneous energy that would’ve made it more enjoyable doing so. However, beyond the lack of musical changes the biggest problem in the album is the fact that there’s just such an utterly abysmal production job on the album that it really hinders everything more than the actual musical contents and compositions. The production on this one is so lame and tired the music itself is delivered with an inept and weak-sounding vibe that can’t escape the overall blandness of its surface realization, as the guitars are wafer-thin and lack any sense of bite to them as they sound off with their rather flat tones. The drumming as a whole sounds like it was recorded in a garbage can with an equally thin mix that really forfeits the pounding and intense vibes associated with both genres in favor of a practice-room demo-sound recording that is utterly awful on a full-length release from a major-label band, especially one with this pedigree behind it. On top of it all, the bass is so buried in the album it might not have been recorded anyway such is the lack of presence on this effort, so in full effect we have repetitive, wafer-thin recordings of competently-performed but ordinary early-90s style death metal with trimmings of black metal atmospherics thrown into the mix, and while it might’ve been decent enough that wafer-thin recording does do the whole album a huge injustice.

For the most part, the songs here are pretty similar and rarely deviate too much. Opener ‘XII’ is a pretty common focus-point for the songs within, offering blasting drumming and tight, frenzied riff-work along the chaotic mid-tempo pace filled with brutal drum triggers and scorching lead breaks that keep the plodding pace in line throughout that stays decidedly mid-range in the riff pace while the drumming fails to get the tempo going during the first half as the frenzied patterns continue into the extended, soaring solo section with furious drum blasts, tight rhythms and frantic guitars throughout the final half. The trend continues into ‘Legions,’ only allowing far tighter, brutal rhythms backed by frantic tempos, bursting speed-metal patterns with furious picks throughout the tight first half with scorching riff-work and blasting drumming that adds a touch of thrash to the brutal rhythms. While in the second half of the album, ‘Ageless Merciless’ and ‘Ashes and Runes’ both follow this trend with tight, frantic riffing against pounding double-bass lines and intense blasting in the main rhythm while the scattershot riff-patterns collide nicely with the scorching soloing against the pounding drum-work and furious speed-metal patterns underlying the whole section that carries into the second solo section filled with equally pounding drumming and intense, frantic start/stop riffs that attempt to add a sense of technicality to the whole proceeding but comes up lamely against the stuttering pace afforded by the overall pace and rhythm that picks up considerably in the second half with more straightforward riffs and pounding drumming. ‘My Queen Shall Not Be Mourned’ is the start of the usage of atmospheric keyboards thrust into the mix, which continue in ‘The Shifting Poles,’ ‘Waltz of the Solstice’ and ‘Gods and Machines’ as they all weave the delicate lines into the thrashing music within. Frankly, the best track is closer ‘We Are the Wolves,’ as the tight, furious and technical riffing against pounding drumming and up-tempo pace with stuttering tremolo-picked rhythms alongside battering drum-work that continues bashing away against the tight riffing throughout and carries through the utterly blistering drum-beats in the mid-section that weaves a dynamic series of gang vocal-shouts and urgent technical riff-work together into a battering series of pummeling drumming and equally raging guitar riffs in the final half, which leaves the other three as the brief instrumentals.

While this album is still undone by its woeful production that really hampers just about everything within this one more than anything the overly-familiar music itself might do, that would be just one of the problems with this effort that can be strangely enjoyable at times but really cannot hide from the fact that the music itself just doesn’t sound right. It has moments where it could’ve been something approaching competent as the potent mixture of old-school and more modern death metal elements weaved together with minor touches of black metal could’ve been something but instead comes off as nothing more than repetitive and rather unoriginal completed by that woeful mix, leaving this one to really only be worthwhile for the hardcore fans of the bands’ lineup as we wait for them to fix their mistakes on album number two.

Adequate Won't Cut It - 61%

dystopia4, January 27th, 2014

On most fronts this is an adequate death metal album. However, this international project helmed by ex-Morbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker, lacks staying power. Orchestrating The Apocalypse is no doubt a competent affair; it is, however, hardly an inspiring one. Warfather aim to sound staunchly old school - and they do a decent enough job at aping the old masters. Unfortunately, they do a lousy job at forming a believable identity of their own. We have all heard most of what Warfather have to offer from those old school classics done much more convincingly.

For their first album, Warfather have decided to take it slow. Although not without faster outbursts, this offering is littered with mid-paced to slow lurches. A strong cast of old school classics are looked to for inspiration, but Morbid Angel (duh) and Deicide seem to be the biggest players in shaping this record's sound. Steve's cavernous growls are reasonably punishing, though hardly anything exceedingly special. Featuring a large offering of riffs, mean and imposing tremolo is a huge part of the sound. The lead guitar, while somewhat infrequent, does give this album some much needed variation. Occasional background atmospherics also adds a nice touch, especially the sharp female choir vocals. However, nice window dressings every now and again doesn't save the mediocre whole.

The production is by far the biggest thing holding this album back. It is so bland that Falloch deciding to do a Nickelback cover album would be more enthralling. It is particularly noticeable on the drums, which have a flat tone to say the least. The drummer is clearly technically proficient, but this is where his positive attributes end. The clicky sound of the near-constant double bass is just awful and his performance is as uninspired and by-the-books as you can get. The bad production also mars the guitar work. Two or three chugs then a more distinctive tremolo pattern is a common riff formula here. The production makes the chugs sound laughably derpy. With the rest of the instruments out of the way, this brings us to the bass. My first question is where the fuck is it? I'm sure it's down there in the mix somewhere, but it's at the point where it could have been completely omitted and many of us would be none the wiser. This is a shame, as it leaves the sound a bit thin.

If you look past the production, this is actually a quite decent album. Most of this is adequate; vaguely good, even. Vaguely good isn't enough, though. There's not much here that makes this any more worth your attention than the next death metal band. My entire opinion of this album is basically that I can enjoy it enough when it's on, but there isn't really any reason I'd put it on again. Much of this is because it's influenced strictly by the usual suspects and doesn't form much of its own identity as a result. With better production and some audible bass this would have been better. It still wouldn't be great. If adequate music by established musicians is what you crave, then this will perfectly suit your needs. For those wanting that something more, you'll have to dig a bit deeper than this.