You probably don’t need to read this article. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way towards Richmond duo Antichrist Siege Machine; if anything, it’s a compliment on how evocative their band name is and how perfectly it fits their sound. Since 2016, these guys have been kicking ass and taking names in the niche-within-niche that is the war metal/bestial black metal genre.

Schism Perpetration, their debut LP, is exactly what previous releases have been leading up: it is oppressively murky, scorching hot, and unrelenting. ASM excel at the classic churn-and-burn formula of war metal, never letting up across the record’s 27-minute runtime. The pair have spent many collective hours in other death metal, grind, and crust punk bands, and it’s obvious across this release that they actually have the chops and knowhow necessary to make this style of music work.

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Make no mistake, ASM play proper war metal, but they’re on the more legible side of the genre (think more Teitanblood than Revenge) and this allows them to display their cultivated talent for writing the sort of grinding-death-black riffs the genre requires. Often, war metal devolves into mush: riffs get lost in a fog of cloudy production and flaccid guitar. But Schism Perpetration has a far more tempered edge; the pair play to the genre’s strengths by allowing for moments where a brief “melody” rises above the clangor or all the chaos comes to a juddering halt as a tectonic groove takes center stage. It’s at these points that Schism Perpetration shows itself as a truly special release within the wide world of war metal, these bits of songcraft where something enormous rears its ugly head from behind the billowing clouds of smoke and shows that this isn’t just dark atmospherics but something truly vicious. This is one of the best war metal releases of 2019, if not the best, and you would be foolish to pass it up.