posted on 2/2010 By:
With so many bands mixing so many styles, there’s something very inspiring about an act that can take simpler genres that are considered building blocks of today’s more aggressive sounds, and breathe sharp new life into them without fucking with the formulas too much. Kansas City, Missouri’s Ares Kingdom light things up with a spirited melding of earthen, bludgeoning Bolt Thrower-ish death metal, a few healthy doses of melody that wouldn’t be the least bit out of place on almost any Slough Feg record, and unsurprisingly, just enough Order From Chaos to remind you where their roots are still firmly planted.
I haven’t had the opportunity to check out their entire back catalog of demos, EP’s, or full-length debut Return To Dust, but taking what I have heard into consideration, I’d say Incendiary is a few very long steps ahead of their earlier material. As a new listener, it was odd at first to hear the close similarities between Alex Blume and Pete Helmkamp, Mike and Chuck’s former band mate in OFC, and the leadoff title track definitely has an Angelcorpse vibe about it. But this is far more dimensional than the all-out assault of Exterminate, as Ares Kingdom is all about letting the riffs and melodies breathe. And speaking of riffs, the band produces a stockpile of riffs high enough to empower the armies of three nations, and the solid production gives a great deal of separation to the unending chord abuse.
Even though the production is nothing to really complain about, and has a heavier finish than their earlier material, just a little more bass would have been great, but the overall increase in tonal grit and weight doesn’t hurt the sometimes lofty, epic heights Ares Kingdom attempts to attain. “Descent of Man” sounded like modern day Holy Terror via Mind Wars shortly after the five minute mark, and caused involuntary headbanging throughout by cramming every moment with cool lead fills and fantastic thrash drumming. As “The Destruction of Sennacherib” gallops through in full on Atavism mode with the sounds of battle slowly gaining volume in the background, this leads directly into the grandiose “Silent Mortal Flesh (Convergence)” which gives you a good mid-paced punch in the jaw. Things then relax and get a little spacey with the intro to “Ashen Glory”, but once again it steadily builds into a crescendo of power chords, and more tense, uptempo thrash that transcends primitive trappings.
What really sticks out to me is how Ares Kingdom don’t waste a minute of time with filler: each riff Doug and Chuck wind around each other has standout strength, each lead fill and solo compliments and enhances the riffs without overpowering them, and even though the vocals might not have much variation, but they don’t need to most of the time. This is a smart, creative, and uncaring album that is sometimes incredibly catchy without infusing much bounce at all, evidenced by the nearly perfect “Beasts That Perish”, and absolutely massive “Gathering The Eagles”. There’s enough metal ammo here to level an entire mountain range of deathcore posers, but rather than unleashing it all in one burst, they pick their battles by varying the tempo, holding back with the fury when it’s not necessary, and laying low until it’s time to break out machine-gun fire in unerring abundance.
Harmonies with balls, songwriting with purpose, and an untiring energy. It makes for one hell of an exhilarating listen, and stakes a respectable claim somewhere on a year-end list that’s already hinting at being another challenge to assemble many months from now. If you’re any fan of Slough Feg, Bolt Thrower, or Holy Terror, you’d be doing yourself a terrible disservice by not investigating beyond my review, because this blows a huge percentage of cookie cutter modern throwback thrash to pieces. Incendiary is right.
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