The UK’s Allfather has only been around since 2014 but one listen to the band’s full length debut Bless the Earth With Fire and they have already improved over last year’s EP. That’s saying something because No Gods. No Masters. was not only good but scratched the right anger-filled itch with blistering hardcore laced metal. The underlying approach here is much the same but this time out mountainous riffs and a heavy dose of southern sludge play a much bigger part. This combination makes for an extremely hard hitting album full of twists and turns that begs for repeat listens.
Everyone has their go-to bands and albums for when some sort of a release is needed. Be it anger, pent up frustration, or any other in a countless list of day to day things that can push our buttons. This sort of release — catharsis through music — is precisely where Allfather hit the sweet spot on No Gods. No Masters. Even though it was barely over 10 minutes in length it got the job done; push play, crank the volume, and within minutes all the weight of whatever baggage exists was lifted. They’re pissed off so you don’t have to be and with their burly hardcore delivery it’s so easy to immediately identify with everything they’re doing and lose yourself in the aggression.
While the band never loses sight of the vitriol that made their EP such a success they mine the undercurrent of sludge and doom that played a backseat role on that same release. Take the slow, methodical chug of “The Bloody Noose” for example. The majority of the song lumbers along with focused restraint yet threatens to explode at any minute similar to a cross between Ufomammut and Weedeater. Then, the gloves come off for the pulse quickening stomp of “Mouth Of the Beast”. Vicious hardcore meets thunderous riffs as the seconds tick off. But it’s Tom Ballard’s (@butcherr666) throat splitting yells and the wild guitar solos near the end that stand out the most.
Even though there’s no sunshine in “Dark Actors” there is however plenty of melody in the midst of all the riffs and swinging percussion. But even still, with the dense bass work and dark atmosphere, seething rage remains the focal point. And that is precisely what Allfather are so great at, switching gears mid track and being able to cover a lot of musical ground without ever losing focus of their goal or surrendering to any type of trends.
All roads lead to the all encompassing and engrossing “Death and Hell Followed With Him”. At just over eleven minutes it’s the longest track the band has done to date. But also the most varied. Quiet yet ominous chords, reminiscent of the vengeful “Ghost” from Clutch, open the track and within minutes it blooms into thunderous and sprawling doom riffs. Crusty solos and some of the band’s most intense d-beat style drumming pepper the middle while a Down meets Kyuss groove closes the final moments. For all the multifarious directions the band takes here and the space they’ve afforded themselves to stretch out and jam, this track steals the highlight spot. But also proves this five piece can flat out write an epic song. Can’t finish things off without mentioning the low rumble of Andrew Day’s (@dooombrarian) bass work as it truly is the anchor when the band dives deep into the abyss of doom.
On Bless the Earth With Fire, Allfather leave their in-your-face intensity fully intact while successfully experimenting with slower tempos and aggressive melodies. The band’s songwriting throughout and collective cohesion is much stronger, whether they are playing at punk speed or a doom plod they are tight at all times. It’s an insanely addictive album that gets in quick, hits hard, and gets out. Any band with the tagline of “Beards. Metal. Fuck You.” better be able to deliver. And Allfather do, in spades.