When a band can bring together a number of influences, it almost always results in a sound that can only be described by the band. It always ends in something delightfully unique. We all have that little niche we like, of course. But when a band can take a lot of different sounds and textures, smash them all together, and write something new and different, it’s always enjoyable and laudable. Rochester UK’s Allfather follow in that path, combining sludgy hardcore and some blackened doom to make a record that’s hard to pin down but exceptionally original.
It’s a very interesting combo the band plays with. Certainly, there is some hardcore in there, but it’s too metal to not be sludge. At the same time, it’s very sludgy but more on the hardcore side. It’s an excellent line the band treads that allows them to dabble in both worlds a bit without sounding too much like one or the other. On top of that, there’s an ascetic the band plays with where everything seems extremely dour and dark. Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily be a metal band without that but this feels distinctly different. Much of it comes through the lyrics, but it’s just as much a part of the atmosphere their record has.
It really comes together with those tasty, tasty riffs. The record is completely full of them. If you like your sludge dirty and hardcore, did you ever come to the right place. “Citadels” is the grinding sludge/hardcore riffs that get us down in the dirt like we want. Guitarists Alan Cordner and Joe Goatham really lay on the fuzzy distortion with the subtlety of a baseball bat wrapped in razor wire. Power chords pummel while the grinding open chug of strings keeps the beat going. Andrew Day’s bass gives a lot of heft to the track in general, and Kieron Sullivan’s drums splash and crash while also directing the whole track forward. Vocalist Tom’s lyrics really seal the whole deal. While lamenting the loss of brethren to the oppressors, he also ends the song with a hardcore style political statement to avenge the fallen: “Instead of burning bridges/And razing citadels/We should be burning flags/And raising fucking hell”. The whole thing is delivered by a grunted shout that just makes so much sense for the entire song.
The band is also willing to stray from the path of a hardcore band and engaging in some alternative songwriting. The unusual inclusion of 11 and half minute track “Lampedusa” is not only unique for its length but also for the song structure. It starts with the folky guitars more at home on a black metal record than some sludgy hardcore. Once the distorted bass comes in, it feels like a dark pub song you sing with your buddies over flagons of ale. Over the course of the 11 plus minutes, we get a taste of the folky punk singalong mixed with the depressed tempo of a more upbeat doom track. Considering the sound this band creates, it’s a wonderful surprise to close the record with this track.
This record reminds me of that super old Reese’s ad: did they get doom metal in their hardcore punk, or did they get hardcore punk all over their doom metal? It’s a great problem to have. Teetering the line between the two is what makes bands great. While we all love our genre bands, it’s nice to hear people combine a multitude of sounds into their music. The best groups can have their own voice that sounds like nothing else but themselves. Allfather is one of those groups. You can hear it in their back catalog all the way up to now. But for now, enjoy this record before they make everything desolation.
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And All Will Be Desolation is available now via the Bandcamp link above.