ALBUM REVIEW: ALL OUT WAR - CELESTIAL ROT
BRUTAL HARDCORE MEETS FREEZING BLACK METAL IN A DARK ALLEY
All Out War’s Instagram bio describes them as Apocalyptic Filth Metal and, by doing so, ensure they are not in breach of the Trades Description Act. The New Yorkers have been going for a long time, too, peddling their muscular cross-over hardcore since the early 1990s. Despite that enduring legacy, they somehow remain one of the less familiar, and firmly underground, names to have graced the famous roster of the hardcore institution Victory Records.
After all this time All Out War have decided to dial up their demented savage hardcore by adopting broiling black metalisms into their violent noise and Celestrial Rot is a squall of nastiness. In this particular case the band’s name acts as an accurate reflection of their bellicose sound. Each track is a bewildering punch up of old school black metal tremolos and snare abuse wedded to confrontational hardcore breakdowns and vocals. It is arguably – though you could get other examples – like a punkier hardcore version of Scour.
At its heart, this is still the hardest of hardcore. All Out War were always less about singalong gang chants and more about in your face seething fury. The ravishing streaks of black metal in Celestial Rot, however, imbue this with a chilling, darker edge. Snake Legion and Glorious Devastation have a grotty sound of graffiti-plastered urban decay and bleak deprivation but the familiar hardcore breakdowns hook up with haunted BM atmospheres of tremolo and grim thrashiness. This just shouldn't work...should it? But All Out War sound like they have been doing it for years. All too often hardcore has a fairly one-dimensional scope with stylistic restrictions and the scene was sometimes guilty of conservatism. This band's extra strong blackened blend, however, not only adds a widened texture but it also intensified their vitriolic delivery.
After career spanning output of slugging tough guy hardcore, All Out War get creative plaudits for introducing BM influences that add a spiteful, dare you say it, darkly cerebral edge to their testosteronal barrage. The streetwise, piledriving hardcore is thus imbued with a haunted, sub-zero draughtiness that sets the band apart from spinning kick, crowd-killing mobs. The band have added a stylistic twist yet haven’t decoupled from their hardcore metal DNA. Hyper-active, aggro energy radiates so much from this collection of tracks to the extent you can almost see it, such is the relentlessness. Vocalist Mike Score gives an unhinged, blood vessel threatening performance throughout with a menagerie of slavered squawks, grunts and howls.
All Out War have fiery energy and spill their guts into the performance. It’s an intensive onslaught without any reprieve. The record clocks in at under half and hour which is probably just as well because, in that time, the listener gets a proper slap multiple times. This form of music suits brevity because it is so full-on. Nevertheless some might find that, as the record progresses, the intensity can overwhelm particularly by the final third. The song structures tend to stick to a template where breakneck tremolo picks or caustic thrash with occasional chaotic divebomb ends in a chuggy pit-friendly break down. That is absolutely fine and it meets All Out War’s mission statement. Be in no doubt this powerfully uncompromising to the extent it can de-sensitise but it is a deft twist on hardcore and the rage is paint stripping. Imagine getting beaten up by a gang of thugs while being terrorised by wraiths. Music for dark alleys.
check out All Out War on bandcamp: https://alloutwar.bandcamp.com/