On their eighth album, All Out War return to the quality of their glory days on the shortest but fiercest album of their career so far.

Release date: February 3, 2023 | Translation Loss Records | BandcampInstagramFacebook

All Out War have become a sort of metalcore Slayer by remaining completely dedicated to a single sound for numerous decades, with just slight variations across albums. Their 1998 album For Those Who Were Crucified remains a landmark of the ’90s metalcore scene, following an impressive debut a year earlier. Their 2003 third album Condemned To Suffer continued with a similar quality, but the four albums released since have been hit and miss to say the least. While 2017’s Give Us Extinction had a lot going its way, I’ve been disappointed by much of their discography since the turn of the century. When Celestial Rot was announced, I was filled with equal parts excitement and skepticism but hoped the band could pull off another top quality metalcore album to enjoy.

Firstly, I’m pleased to report that this is firmly on the hit side of hit and miss. Right from the first moment, this is All Out War’s most blackened album yet. While death, sludge, and black metal influences have regularly reared their ugly heads across albums, they’ve dived right in with the tremolo picking and blast beats interspersed with the NYHC breakdowns and metalcore aggression. It’s clear that they aren’t playing around despite being past their 30th year as a band. The anger and vitriol is still intact with just as much force as ever. Mike Score’s vocals remain as piercing as ever while the rest of the line-up has been consistent since 1998. It’s clear they have a chemistry but on Celestial Rot they have managed to rekindle their glory days.

Opener “Snake Legion” sets the tone and lays the foundation for the entire album. It’s as much black metal as hardcore and metalcore, and is uncompromising throughout. From here to the end of the album there is no letting up from the veterans, with each track delivering full speed and full power. All three singles follow back to back with “Glorious Devastation”, “Wrath/Plague” and “Hideous Disdain” all delivering exactly what you want All Out War to deliver. Ahead of the album’s release, the singles gave me hope that this would be a late career highlight and it becomes so with the rest of the album.

The second half of the album remains mostly the same: variation is definitely not the spice of All Out War’s life. While this could be seen as a negative, I don’t come into an All Out War album hoping to stumble across a heartfelt ballad, I want metal riffs, breakdowns, and raging vocals. Thankfully, The band seem to know exactly what the fans want and delivered that and nothing more. Across the ten tracks, All Out War traverse well trodden ground with track titles like “Caustic Abomination” and “Revel In Misery”, the same as we’ve been seeing for 30 years now. Why change after so long, though? The nihilism and anger has remained just as relevant at the start of 2023. The world around is still on the brink of nuclear war, many people are still fighting to survive on minimum wage while the ruling classes hold power with hideous disdain for the common man. Many things have changed, technology has progressed and we face new issues with AI and self-driving cars, but the feeling remains the same. Touching on the influence of the world around us, vocalist Score says, Celestial Rot expresses the decay of not only this world, but the dogma that has helped bring us here. The fall of the earthly realm, as well as the spiritual realm.’

The final few tracks of the album include the title track, continuing steadfastly with powerful chugging and Score’s recognisable howling snarl flying above. “Weaving Oblivion” is once again much the same but also gives us an insight into the quality of the musicians away from their songwriting with a roaring solo ripping through the middle of the track. Album closer “Horrid Shroud of Heaven” adds extra vocal depth with some bellowing backing vocals next to the lead. The drum fills throughout the track are a highlight of a very tight rhythm section across the album. There is also a bit of a slower pace on the track, with extra guitar melodies pulling the album together into a fitting end.

In just 26 minutes, All Out War have reminded us why they are still so respected equally among the metal and hardcore scenes. Celestial Rot is the shortest album of their career but is packed with everything All Out War do best. Score’s vocals, powerful riffs, and pummelling rhythms don’t let up across all ten tracks on their finest outing since Condemned To Suffer. All Out War’s career has been full of very few surprises, but when the expected is delivered with as much quality as it is on Celestial Rot, it’s easy to see why the New York band has outlasted the other bands that came out of the NY scene in the ’90s.



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