Ascended Dead stare end time in the face with devastating chaos on ‘Evenfall of the Apocalypse’

Photo by Scott Kinkade

We’ve been inundated with ideas of the end of civilization, what with a pandemic so many people chose to ignore, our decaying societies largely blamed on the pox that is social media, and, at least in this country, the orgy of gun violence half our politicians show zero interest in trying to manage. That doesn’t mean everything has to be swamped in misery, but today will provide no solace.

It’s can be no mistake that Ascended Dead named their second record “Evenfall of the Apocalypse” because the soot-covered death metal that’s pile into this beast only can be for the end times and no other eras. The band—vocalist/guitarist Jon Reider, guitarist Ian Lawrence, bassist Kevin Schreutelkamp, drummer Charlie Koryn—returns after six years since dropping a full-length with 11 furious tracks and 41 harrowing minutes that lock you in the gears of real-life horrors and refuse to let the sun shine through. This feels like misery on top of insult, a destructive collection that sounds like it’s been festering in the creators’ minds for some time and only now has been vomited forth as this volcanic record.

“Intro/Abhorrent Manifestation” enters like a ghoul, swirling into stabbing guitars and infernal howls that pummel physically and psychologically. A panicked fury erupts as wild yelps strike, shredding the senses and slinking into the stars and headlong into “Ungodly Death” where the guitars absolutely trample. The intensity is a lot to handle as the growls mangle and the pace stampedes, with everything engulfed in unextinguishable flames. “Nexus of the Black Flame” splatters as it enters, harsh growls throwing haymakers, the speedy carnage consuming bodies whole. The playing aims to destroy the mind, leads melts, and a frenzied attack clobbers poor souls, crushing all the way to the end. “Bestial Vengeance” unloads and drills into your chest, raw howls spit venom, and total violence arrives. The stomping accelerates as harsh storming and blistering thrashing unite, burning off into the distance and right into “Tantum Bellum” that attacks with electricity. The playing ravages as the senses are obliterated, speeding through manic howls and vicious intensity, crazed cries stinging flesh and mashing bones. “Inverted Ascension” unloads marring sounds and jabbing playing, frying brains cells in an act of total annihilation. Guitars engulf as the soloing takes off, raging into an insurmountable act of terror.

“The Curse/Enveloped in Thorns” smashes through, mangling veins and creating disorienting damage, succumbing to pummeling force. The howls devastate as leads zap, the bass chars, and the total slaughter races to the finish. “Visceral Strike” brings tornadic hell, crazed howls chewing at nerves, insane destruction carving a path to hell. The playing continues to devastate as the final moments are stamped out by scorching guitars. “Passage to Eternity” is an instrumental piece that begins with cleaner guitars wandering, taking on a classic metal vibe, acoustics dancing amid the devastation. Eventually the spirits go wild, and faster playing makes its mark, wafting out into the night. The title track unloads and splits skulls, your melted brain exposed, the leads utterly dominating. The playing devolves into maniacal fury, ripping into the vortex of hell, leaving black ash behind. Closer “Intransigent Blackness (outro)” devastates and brings a final dose of pain, giving one final shove into the combine gears that eats bodies whole and extinguishes all hope.

“Evenfall of the Apocalypse” is aptly titled as that what it feels like you’re facing the entire time, your existence way too close to the nightmare to try to flee for safety. Ascended Dead put every ounce of evil and unforgiving intent into these 11 tracks, creating death metal that acts as much as a harbinger of doom as a piece of relentless art. This is music for worldwide devastation, a soundtrack to watch the world burn as it, justifiably, consumes every one of us.

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