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Asgard - To a Golden Age
Review: Old style death metal created with the microrhythmic refinements of modern metal, a factor enabled by the comfortability of the playing on this release -- the band are well within their abilities and so play with precision and certainty -- Asgard craft metal of combustive elements assembled with melodic understructure emphasizing a concept illustrated in Viking themes. Although this work is formed of relatively simple structures it attempts progressive stages of development tonally and achieves impressive melodic structures within concrete, percussive death metal instrumentals.
Power chords avoid entirely predictable orderings and vary in tone sequence as needed to accentuate elements of these songs, which are carefully designed yet made from seemingly disparate pieces and conflicting rhythms.
There is something in the ability of this band to put these riffs together that reminds me of a more radical Unleashed who used more precision strumming to produce atmosphere. Understanding of the ear of the audience for repetition drives interesting variation in this music which when it is good drives the ultimate variation of the song, but if of lesser focus creates some interesting diversions that seem somewhat random but relatively cool.
Vocals are heavy growling unfurling gravel voice, up against some precision drumming with jazz influences in between pattern beats of the song although generally it sticks to rock drumming voices for major sections of song.
All instruments are played well in beautiful synchronization which produces much of the effect of this album, a pulsing intricacy of strum rhythm that accentuates the architectural nature of simple riffs in the tradition of influences Morbid Angel or a black metal band such as Mayhem.
Blast beats share space next to otherwise conventionally paced passages of doom and death metal, all built from simple elements and often accompanied by tastefully understated keyboards playing the riff behind the guitar. Keyboards however are only a small percentage of this release, which has mostly rippling chords and speed riffs or muffled-strummed close-rhythm death march riffs.
Overall it builds energy in an older style through careful composition, simple catchy riffs, and powerful complexities of strumming rhythm for an atmosphere of aggression and vitality.
The appealing nature of its format to standard death metal fans does not reveal the power of this music which is a hidden death metal rhythmic expectation that creates a groovelike effect and works it for all of the power these riffs can deliver.