Allfather is a curious name. I'm reminded of that long-forgotten, but still available, staple of 80s "I couldn't think what to get you" Christmas presents; Terry's All Gold. I'm confident that probably wasn't their intention (my ignorance of Norse mythology is vast). However, while my mind was distracted by the memory of Coffee Creams, I was greeted with what sounded like Ennio Morricone's guitar line for an Eastern Satanic ritual, introducing me to ‘And All Will Be Desolation’. You may be thinking this won't be a lyrically positive set of songs; Allfather assures us this is the aural equivalent of the apocalypse. Indeed, opener ‘Black Triangle’ warns us of the complacency toward fascist movements. So, rather than dwell on demonic tales, Allfather tackle headier themes. They are, in their own words, lamenting what has been lost in this world; a sense of what is right and decent. It's to be commended that Allfather use their music, their stage, to strive for a better world. And, while they're certainly not alone in being socially conscious musicians, this kind of lyrical pointedness is exactly what is required in this uncertain, tumultuous, political and social landscape.
Ah, but the sound. When the album kicks into life I'm sadly reminded that the 'loudness war' is still a thing. The songs sound oppressively crunched through headphones; I imagine the waveform looks like a hosepipe. But, with the production in general also being somewhat 'dirty garage' in its approach, it lends it an appropriate, if uncomfortable, listening experience. Maybe it's deliberate, maybe not, but it would have benefitted from something a bit more dynamic; some space to breathe. The press release leads us to believe that the band's primary influences are Entombed and Crowbar, among others. The Entombed influence, at least circa Wolverine Blues, is as clear as day; the guitar sound, and the LG Petrov-esque barking, all very much evident. The Crowbar comparison is less obvious, but occasionally makes itself known in the vocal delivery, and in some of the sludgier musical moments. Most enjoyably, however, is that this album is relentless in its ability to get you grooving. And what a success it is on that front. I may be showing my age, but I miss the glory days of early-90s Death Metal. The aforementioned Entombed, along with Dismember, Pungent Stench, Grave, et al, were bringing a much-needed sense of dynamic bounce to the game. Sure, there were some great technical bands out there, like Morbid Angel and Death but, while I admired them, I could never truly warm to them. I preferred ‘Nectroticism’ to ‘Heartwork’; sacrilege, I know. The Death and Roll movement brought a sense of swagger to the genre. Allfather are bringing that swagger back and I can only applaud it.
In terms of songcraft, each track is very strong in its own right. The breakdown at the end of ‘By Sword, By Famine, By Plague’ is crushing, perfectly segueing into ‘Jackal's Night’ - arguably the most potent song on the album - drenched in feedback. ‘Inherit the Dust’ shines with its New Orleans style sludge (this song, more than any, evokes Crowbar) and a tasty lead guitar line at the song's close. But it's album closer ‘Lampedusa’ that takes us to other realms. Starting with a quite beautiful acoustic passage, we lead into a bass riff - itself reminiscent of Type O Negative - inspired(?) by a tune I recognise, which may or may not be a traditional Irish jig. I'm sure someone will read this and highlight my ignorance. Anyway, the tune is massive; clocking in at over twelve minutes long. It's not a slog though, as it has that special ingredient that the likes of Sleep and Earth seem to channel well. Overall, this is an album to be cherished and broadcast to the world. It's not often something special comes along - there are 'great' albums released regularly, of course - but Allfather have certainly created something bold and magnificent.
Rotting Throne Records
AND ALL WILL BE DESOLATION
Review by Steve Cowan
7th September 2018
1) Black Triangle
3) Lord Betrayer
4) By Sword, By Famine, By Plague
5) Jackal's Night
6) Inherit the Dust
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"In terms of songcraft, each track is very strong in its own right... Allfather have certainly created something bold and magnificent."