Review: Allfather – And All Will Be Desolation

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Label: Rotting Throne Records

We all need a band like Allfather in our lives. The UK five-piece exemplify all that is good in metal, with their mission in life seemingly to be to remind us all of just how much fun heavy music can be. With a combination of sludge-tinged riffs, commanding, gruff vocals, and an all-around “fuck you” attitude, Allfather are here to make heads bang. They achieved just that with first album Bless the Earth With Fire, and now follow-up And All Will Be Desolation continues that mission, with tighter song-writing, a greater sense of confidence, and impassioned lyrics that do their “riffs against fascism” merch justice.

Allfather’s debut was an undeniably enjoyable record – one that combined the power of The Riff as exemplified by the likes of High on Fire with an energy and sense of directness that owes more than a little to hardcore, without ever being anything other than utterly metal. It was a record that was seemingly designed to make the listener enjoy themselves, and that’s also true of And All Will Be Desolation. The mission here, first and foremost, is to get listeners banging heads, raising fists, and generally submitting to the glorious, crushing metal that Allfather put out in a style that makes writing songs this catchy and heavy seem easy.

That’s only part of the story, though. What’s much more noticeable on the follow-up is Allfather’s sense of politics, and that their music – for all that it revels in the joys of heavy metal and the power of The Riff – is protest music. The lyrics are cuttingly political without ever resorting to tired cliches or vapid statements, such as on second track ‘Citadels’. It’s here that the band raise the modern image and idea of Fortress Europe, with nation states seemingly unconcerned about the damage that their policies inflict upon those deemed to be “other”. Opener ‘Black Triangle’ protests against the rising tide of fascism in ever more direct terms, asking “Where the hell where you when it mattered?” There is a sense of righteousness throughout the album, and a feeling that – whilst their music may be hugely enjoyable to listen to, without doubt – Allfather want to use their platform and position to rally against the injustices of the world.

Not that it ever feels like they’re lecturing the listener. There is none of the “holier than thou” posturing that can undermine even the most heartfelt of protest songs, instead just a sense that the underlying nature of metal – running back through every era, every strand, all the way back to that first Black Sabbath album – is utterly in tune with political protest. And it is! There’s nothing more metal than calling out the governments of the day for their flaws to a soundtrack of power chords and crashing drums, and that’s exactly what Allfather deliver. With an added, and unexpected, emotional edge on songs like ‘Lord Betrayer’, it all makes And All Will Be Desolation a considerable step-up from the debut, in terms of lyrics, riffs, and song-writing, both on shorter rages such as ‘Jackal’s Nigher’ or the ambitious, 12 minute long closer ‘Lampedusa’, a song based upon an island at the heart of the modern refugee crisis. This is the sound of a band full of confidence, knowing that they have recorded something special, and determined to make sure that you know that, too.

And All Will Be Desolation is due for release on 7 September 2018, and can be pre-ordered on CD and digitally via Bandcamp.

 

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