Ares Kingdom – The Unburiable Dead (2015)

Reviewer: Brandon

Band: Ares Kingdom

Album: The Unburiable Dead

Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions

Ares Kingdom has a history going back almost two decades now of putting out nothing but the highest-quality death/thrash that one could expect from a band, as one would expect of a group formed by Order From Chaos legends Chuck Keller and Mike Miller. After being joined by Alex Blume, the band’s vocalist and bassist, Ares Kingdom put out two of the finest death/thrash albums of the 00’s and, after five years, are finally back with the newest installment of their heavy metal tinged aggressive metal assault.

From the beginning of the new album, Ares Kingdom makes it abundantly clear that they’ve lost none of their songwriting prowess during the five years that they went without originally-written Ares Kingdom material, leading off with a strong and somewhat melodic seven minute long epic that’s totally characteristic of the kind of stuff the band has done in the past. From that point onwards, ripping riffs, heart-stopping solos, and well-placed pace changes mix with more melodic heavy metal influenced bits to create an album that flows better than even most prog can accomplish. Blume’s thunderous vocals crescendo in between relatively long instrumental sections and never feel out of place, and well placed drum fills add power and variety to what would be a stunning album even with much worse drumming. The guitar tone is massive and as perfect as anyone could want it to be, and while many riffs repeat several times, Ares Kingdom always knows exactly where to change them up to keep songs interesting, and if a riff comes back later in the same song after its debut, it’s because it was so damn tasty that the band knew it had to be listened to twice.

Some of the songs themselves also have massively different pacing as wholes- bangers like Nom de Guerre (my favorite song on The Unburiable Dead) rip through more killer riffs than less bands can put out in an album in under five minutes while the slightly longer Salient and Redoubt manages to keep a slower paced thrash song incredible for the whole five minutes that it takes them to play it (though admittedly, I’m not a particular fan of the last twenty seconds of the song, which act as a bit of an interlude, because I prefer nonstop riffs when I listen to albums; that being said, I feel like the ambient intro on the title track works fairly well and have no issue with it). Writhe acts as a more melodic instrumental song that bridges the more aggressive first fifteen minutes of the album together well with the less aggressive latter half, and the last couple of songs take a more mid-paced approach that places equal emphasis on thrash and melody. That being said, most of the songs on the album shift back and forth between both styles, and that suits The Unburiable Dead very well in terms of both variety and flow; it doesn’t try to be nothing but the primordial aggression that Order From Chaos was, but also doesn’t let the melodic influence from traditional metal or a South of Heaven approach dominate the whole work.

As a final note, it’s worth pointing out that with this album, Ares Kingdom debuts their most ambitious undertaking yet with the track Stultifera Navis (Armistice and League), which, at eleven minutes, clocks in at almost three minutes longer than the previous longest Ares Kingdom track. With many bands, especially ones playing in the same style of music as Ares Kingdom, this would be something to be terrified of- a potential death knell signaling the moment where ambition overtakes the band’s ability to actually write music. Fortunately, this isn’t the case here, and the extremely heavily trad influenced track- perhaps the most immediately noticeably traditionally influenced on the album- works as well as just about everything else on The Unburiable Dead.

9.5/10

  • Brandon

Check ’em out here: http://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/the-unburiable-dead-2

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