Newsflash for anyone still doing the ostrich thing (and who can blame you?): the world is a dumpster fire not-so-slowly creeping towards epic proportions. No need to recount the many ways this is happening and has happened; we’re living and breathing it every single moment. With that said, the title for Medway, UK based Allfather’s third full length, A Violent Truth, couldn’t be more on the nose if it tried. Allfather are no stranger to rage fueled metal – it’s been their calling card since debuting back in 2015. Eight years later the band finds new levels of anger and vitriol to fuel the sonic fire of a world gone mad, congealing all the insanity into one hell of a satisfying record. It’s no secret the band has been a favorite of the 9C crew since, well…forever, so when both Josh and Chris got their fingers in the promo pile at the same time, we’re doing a two hands on deck type of deal. Enjoy.
Full transparency: I’ve been a fan of Allfather since their 2015 debut ep no gods. no masters. Their abrasive and in-your-face approach to “all killer and no filler” has always spoken to me in ways few bands can. They’ve always known exactly who they are and what they were put here to do, ballads or soft and fluffy moments do not exist, and they’ve always been a band anyone would want in their corner for a streetfight or barroom brawl. 2016’s Bless The Earth With Fire was a juggernaut of hardcore, sludge, and death metal that rarely ever let off the gas pedal and when it did it was only to serve up some aggressive atmosphere. Follow up And All Will Be Desolation stayed the course but solidified the band’s songwriting skills with some of the catchiest riffs and most memorable songs to that point in their career. Case in point was “Citadels” which is one of my favorite tracks the band has ever done with its breakneck fury, incendiary guitars, and yes, seriously heavy melodies. It got to the point that if anyone asked me “who is Allfather?” this is the track I pointed them to first.
Then I heard the entirety of A Violent Truth. “Poison Soil” throws fists from the outset; sludge and death metal collide in a cage match while “Black Lungs” settles into suffocating death and doom. Later, and for the first time ever, “A False Peace” offers some respite from the onslaught with a brooding instrumental jam that sets the stage for two of the most vicious and all encompassing tracks on this album, or elsewhere in their discography, “The Hunt Infernal” and closer “Cast Off The Cross.” Here the band employs every tool in their arsenal to devastating effect; healthy doses of black metal and grindcore pepper the edges while brawny sludge and hardcore keep the mood seething and simmering. On top of all that and while all six tracks here are extreme, they all share in this being the best written and executed of the band’s entire catalog. The production is excellent as well and really allows each member to shine brighter than ever. I will have to give a shout-out to Tom B.’s vocals though as I’ve never heard this much range from him; the growls are more guttural, the screams are higher, and his voice is much fuller and far more rounded than ever before. Now, “Citadels” will always be a favorite but this album is now at the top of my Allfather best of list and will be where I point anyone when they ask “who is Allfather?” Kudos you bearded beasts!
I’m sorry, were you looking for some kind of contradictory take on the lead slug covered in barbed wire that is A Violent Truth? I am sorry to disappoint you, because my only complaint is that it’s only 27 minutes long and I left craving more. Like Josh I first noticed the band with their EP before being slaughtered by “Raskolnikov” which opened 2016’s Bless the Earth With Fire. There was aggression, there was riffing, and all was well with the world. I wasn’t prepared for how much growth would present itself on 2018’s And All Will Be Desolation as I mentioned in my review of that album, but DAMN it still packs a punch (sorry Josh but this is where we disagree: “Citadels” is indeed great but there’s a reason why “Black Triangle” opens the album, and that reason is because it’s the best song. Fight me please don’t fight me). New music from the band has been a long time coming, so yeah: of course we were both going to jump immediately when word that A Violent Truth was coming to tear our eardrums apart in the Spring of 2023.
And here we are.
“Poison Soul” once again shows that Allfather know exactly how to open an album. Hardcore meets sludgy thrash with a fist-forward chugging attack, and Tom Ballard’s voice growling, screaming, and rasping in multiple spectrums again a pummeling attack of drums and a low-end frequency bass rumble that gives the song a positively prehistoric vibe. So yeah: massively heavy but I love how the band opens up the song and makes sure there’s enough space for everything to breathe just enough to race ahead. And hot damn but ABC’s guitar solos light the whole thing up. I’m always partial to opening tracks and this one’s no exception. Early single “Black Lungs” has a chaotic frenzied riff that gives me Eyehategod chills even as Guy Smith’s percussion refuses to keep in a standard hardcore lane. I love how much he’s playing over everything and never content to simply keep the beat. The doom and sludge is a little thicker on “Take Their Eyes” but there’s also no escaping that two and half minutes in we get to some almost black metal territory and shit they pull it off. Seriously, maybe give us a straight black metal single one of these days, huh?
The second half the album kicks off with “A False Peace” which is happy to deceive you by having ABC picking a mournful dirge for a solid minute before the band kicks in to bring the heavy ass prelude to more quasi-black metal madness in “The Hunt Infernal” – seriously, guys – this is my direct ask to you: HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST BLAST BEAT AND TREMOLO SHOT because a sludgy hardcore band should NOT be this good with the black metal…I love it. I love it even more when it slows down and gets all twangy and morose and buries itself in the swamp around the two minute mark or so. Finally there’s “Cast Off The Cross” and although I really want to stand by my take of the opening track of all Allfather albums being the best one, I don’t know if I can because this song is absolutely fire.
And THAT’s the Violent Truth of it (rimshot).
In closing, this is 27 minutes long; roughly the same length as Reign In Blood. That is not a coincidence. Both share equal footing when it comes to complete devastation even coming from completely different genres. We hope A Violent Truth will be as pivotal for Allfather as Reign in Blood was for Slayer and we can’t say enough about the band’s dedication to putting out the best version of themselves and staying the course when so many others are mining the past and coming up far, far short. With three albums down, here’s to many more to come.
— Josh and Chris
A Violent Truth will be available March 24 on Trepanation Recordings and the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Allfather, visit their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.