Six years have passed since Ascended Dead released a full-length album and now on a new label and with a sound that has been refined over the years, this incredible band is finally back with a new record that reinterprets their sound and is in many ways a breath of fresh air. Evenfall of the Apocalypse is 10 tracks and clocks in at just over 40 minutes, which is a great stat sheet for their approach to death metal.
When it comes to comparisons from one band to another, I try to limit those. I never want a band to feel like I’m calling them uninspired or copycats, but I would be remiss if I didn’t call to attention just how much it seems that Ascended Dead have taken from Morbid Angel and blended it with their own sensibilities. The dizzying riffs that swirl here and there and the near-constant break-neck pacing of the songs and the album itself make Evenfall of the Apocalypse feel like it was recorded at Morrisound in 1993. I try to listen to a lot of metal that arrives on a weekly basis and much like other genres of music, there’s talent to be found and heard but there is also a lot of recycled ideas that appeal to only one or two aspects of the fans’ ears. This is simply not the case with Ascended Dead. I only used the aforementioned comparison to signal the absolute chaos that ensues when you press play on this record.
Evenfall is a suffocating record both from an atmospheric perspective and also how each song seems to have a linear acceleration that injects so much pressure that by the time the album ends, I felt the need to do some yoga or go for a walk. Jon Reider’s howling vocals sound inhuman as he barks through tracks like “Bestial Vengeance” where even the guitar solos take a backseat to the intensive momentum that builds throughout the song. There’s even a simple-yet-effective tom fill near the end that feels like a quick inhalation before being dunked back into the murk and this song resumes trying to drown me in its endless black waves.
Some of the quicker tracks – like the sub-two minute “Tantum Bellum” – serve as quick bursts of intensity that are mercifully brief but are anything but filler. Ascended Dead are a talented band and even on the succinct tracks the frenetic solos and barbaric vocals are incredible to witness. To contrast brief moments as these, we get songs such as “Passage To Eternity” and “Inverted Ascension” which feel lighter by comparison but still heavier than many bands’ output. As is always the case, having dynamics such as this on your record only make it a more enjoyable ride by allowing tension to build, making the subsequent strangulation even more harrowing.
The crowning jewel of Evenfall of the Apocalypse is indeed the title track. While its distinction of being the longest track on the album makes sense from a conceptual point of view, there are other reasons to relish the entire six-and-a-half minutes of this trip through the grinder. The endless cascading riffs blended with the relentless drumming make this a proper namesake and little wrinkles that are employed along the way speak to just how great Ascended Dead are making even the most brutal throttling something new and fresh.
Death metal in 2023 is in great hands with Evenfall of the Apocalypse. Its pursuit of aggression and auditory violence is a challenging but rewarding endeavor that only gets better with repeated listens. Initially it may be difficult to detect the precise songwriting that went into Evenfall, but upon closer inspection this is an intricate machine of an album with every layer being dependent upon the other. This is proper gut-stomping that only gives you hope to take it away.