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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.