(Greyhaze Records, 2014)
#FOR FANS OF: Death/Black Metal, Morbid Angel, Deicide
Lead by one of the genre’s figureheads in the legendary Steve Tucker, the debut offering from his new band, the Death/Black Metal act Warfather, 'Orchestrating the Apocalypse,' offers up a competent feel that is decent enough but fails to really make a lasting mark. Being much more than a typical Blackened Death Metal act, this group carries it back a little further in time to mix the two styles in a rather old-school manner. This is best demonstrated in the riff-work which builds upon the original thrashing style of the earliest genre practitioners with a series of rather intense, tight chugging patterns for the more extreme segments while a more traditional approach to black metal emerges while a generous amount of tremolo-picked melodies gives it a dab of both extreme musical styles quite frequently that flows throughout the whole album. Backed by a similar drumming dynamic to the earliest Floridian bands that unleashes a ravenous swarm of brutal blasts, hyper-speed rhythms and a total onslaught of vicious fills and tones that are far more intense and vicious than expected this is old-school worship with touches of modernity to the proceeds. It’s tight, brutal and definitely would’ve been worthwhile had this not been similar in their construction. The songs are given a rather similar feel throughout that makes it next to impossible to determine where you are in the running order, beyond the inclusion of three forgettable and utterly unneeded intro tracks that could’ve been melded into the preceding track as they serve as perfect segues for the next track anyway that in essence drops the album into nine traditional tracks with the three breaks. While it’s not an impossible feat dealing with the songs as they are now, trying to find where you are with nine similar tracks makes for a more manageable task without dealing with those extra interludes which barely crack thirty seconds anyway. However, beyond the lack of musical variation, the biggest problem on the album is the fact that there’s just such an utterly abysmal production job that it really hinders everything more than the actual musical content. The production on this one is so bad the music itself is delivered with an inept and weak-sounding vibe that can’t escape its overall blandness, as the guitars are wafer-thin and lack any sense of bite to them as they sound off with their rather flat tones. The drumming as a whole sounds like it was recorded in a garbage can with an equally thin mix that really forfeits the pounding and intense vibes associated with both genres in favor of a practice-room demo-sound recording that is utterly awful on a full-length release from a major-label band, especially one with this pedigree behind it. On top of it all, the bass is so buried in the album it might not have been recorded anyway such is the lack of presence on this effort. For the most part, the songs here are pretty similar and rarely deviate too much. Opener "XII" is a pretty common focus-point for the songs within, offering blasting drumming and tight, frenzied mid-tempo riff-work along the chaotic pace with extended solo sections, offering up plenty to like as the trend continues into "Legions," only with far tighter, brutal rhythms there. While on the second half that usually doesn’t follow such examples, both "Ageless Merciless" and "Ashes and Runes" also follow this trend with tight, frantic riffing against pounding double-bass lines and intense blasting against slight technically-proficient rhythms and solid performances for some good overall efforts. "My Queen Shall Not Be Mourned" is the start of the usage of atmospheric keyboards thrust into the mix, which continue in "The Shifting Poles," "Waltz of the Solstice" and "Gods and Machines" as they all weave the delicate lines into the thrashing music within. Frankly, the best track is closer "We are the Wolves," as the tight, furious and technical riffing against pounding drumming and up-tempo pace with stuttering tremolo-picked rhythms creates a true rager of a track that shows the band has enough juice when it can muster them and offers the best glimpse for their future. While this album is still undone by its woeful production that really hampers just about everything, it has moments where it could’ve been something approaching competent as this effort that can be strangely enjoyable at times. The potent mixture of old-school and more modern death metal elements weaved together with minor touches of black metal could’ve been something but instead comes off as nothing more than repetitive and rather unoriginal completed by that woeful mix, leaving this one to really only be worthwhile for the hardcore fans of the bands’ lineup as we wait for them to fix their mistakes on album number two.