Review Summary: A black/death metal album that manages, through sound songwriting and unrelenting ferocity, to elevate itself above its competitors
Among the veritable pantheon of black/death metal releases this year, New Zealand’s Diocletian have managed to propel themselves toward the top of the list with their second full-length War Of All Against All
, follow up to the good but rather underwhelming likes of 2009’s Doom Cult
, which showed a band that had a set idea but left home without directions. More focused songwriting prompted an immediate increase in quality, noticeable right from the get-go with “Black Dominion” and not relenting until the atmospheric ambiance that concludes the sixteen-minute closer “Fortress Of The Unconquerable”. Indeed, the down-tuned distortion of the riffs wades in muddy pools of revolving chords that shell out riff after riff of unabated ferocity.
The tempo heads from brazen intensity to more deliberate, doomy plodding that features a small handful of low chords accented with the distant vocals that are both low and unintelligible but brilliantly suited for this brand of music- a style those who are familiar with black/death metal will recognize, but one that is a crucial pillar of the atmosphere. The relative safety of Diocletian to remain within the genre’s bounds is not something that goes against the end result, though, simply because of the sheer quality of the songs here. Ranging from brief one minute affairs to the sixteen minute closer (which, admittedly, is mostly atmospheric noise), the songs cover a wide array of ground that takes advantage of all the instruments in play, from the rolling guitar riffs of “Infernos” to the impressive drumming of “Kingdom Of Rats”, the songwriting takes into account all aspects of the band’s talents.
Despite the fact that it’s all stuff that’s been done before time and again by different bands, War Of All Against All
is an infinitely rewarding album that shows taking the genre’s staples and refining them to a point isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The lack of filler is simply a testament to the care taken in the songwriting process to deliver a set of quality songs that deliver in every department. That being said, the shortcomings that critics of the genre bring up won’t be solved on this album, but that wasn’t the aim in the first place. If you’re looking for an album that is filled to the brim with chaotic riffs and immense atmosphere then I can’t see any reason why War Of All Against All