Allfather – Bless the Earth with Fire (Static Tension Records)

Allfather – Bless the Earth with Fire (Static Tension Records)

Sludge, beautiful sludge...

UK sludge Lords Allfather absolutely – actually, make that ABSOMUTHFUCKINGLUTELY – rock.

Bless… may only weigh in around the half hour mark, time wise, but in every other respect it’s got the measure of every other release you’ll hear in this sphere for a long time to come. Opening track Rasolnikov sets the standard. If, as I suspect, it’s got something to do with Dostoyevsky’s epic piece of miserablist literature Crime and Punishment then it couldn’t be more apposite, the boys raining down riff after unforgiving riff on the unsuspecting listener with little care and less pity for their wellbeing.

For some reason Mouth of the Beast reminds me of Iron Monkey, although it only remotely sounds like Nottingham’s finest to my battered old ears, and Dark Actors starts with the sort of chugging riff Tony Iommi would surely come up with in 2016 if he was a skint twenty something with no future and even less hope rather than the Lord of all he surveys.

There is a filthy sense of nihilism and despair hanging over this whole release that definitely links Allfather more to the crust scene than the metal/doom scene, metallic though much of the material is, and Tom’s vocals, which alternate between aggrieved roars and despondent shrieks certainly anchor the whole thing in a much more punkish bedrock.  If you need some evidence of my theory, then epic penultimate track Death, and hell Followed With Him is shot through with the sort of desperate ambition Amebix have always displayed, cramming an albums worth of ideas into its eleven minutes and featuring some cracking guitar from Joe and Alan. When the track erupts with hardcore aggression just before the half way mark you’ll notice a huge – yet undeniably grim – smile has cracked open your face – despite the despair, this is strangely life-affirming stuff. Let me tell you.

I know this isn’t going to be for everyone, but Allfather a definitely worth a punt if the sheer visceral, emotional heft of the riff alone is something you’re interested in.

Michael Stronge
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