Ares Kingdom - Incendiary
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Thrash/Death Metal
9 songs (49:06)
Release year: 2010
Nuclear War Now! Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Formed in 1996, hailing from Missouri and having travelled completely under my metal radar for as long as I’ve been into the genre, Ares Kingdom have released just two full-lengths to date. You probably haven’t heard of them either, the most famous links they have being two members in Pete Hemlkamp’s Order From Chaos and a guitarist who plays session for Barbatos. Yet they deserve your ears, playing a form of extreme music that rarely appeals to jaded metalheads, suspicious of both thrash and death’s general lack of progression and pessimistically expectant that a combination will not take the best elements of each, but the worst. Well, Incendiary more than lives up to its name, somehow combining death and thrash’s best elements to create something quite different to the usual hordes of The Haunted clones that people usually associate with death/thrash.

This is aggressive yet melodic, loud growled vocals battling for dominance with stellar guitarwork ranging from wild soloing to coruscating thrash riffage, subtly progressive song structures buried beneath necksplitting heaviness. Somewhere in the band’s heritage lies Black Metal, the amazingly organic-sounding instruments and complex-sounding songs easily falling into that genre if they didn’t allow the music to breathe so well. But they do, and Incendiary’s all the better for it, using its time well and building songs that don’t stick to conventional lengths yet use every second wonderfully, never meandering or falling into the black hole of repetition. Ares Kingdom can follow a seven-minute song with a two-minute one and make it seem natural, having a perfect grasp of dynamics and knowing that the best metal doesn’t need to crush you constantly.

Having said that, it’s worth noting that Ares Kingdom are quite good at crushing. Bolt Thrower’s brand of sonic warfare was clearly an influence, the crushing battery of the opening title track quite obviously having its roots there. Although overall I’d say the band is more thrash than death, the death elements are clear. What matters more than the genre, ultimately, is the quality of the songwriting, and there the band are supreme. You can’t criticise the gloriously old-school melodic death-meets-rampant-thrash-beast Descent Of Man, or the savage Silent Mortal Flesh (Convergence) with some of the most outrageously enjoyable widdling I’ve heard in a while. Ares Kingdom are open-minded in regards to the genre they play, throwing some doom in on Ashen Glory, and even One-esque old-school Metallica gloom on interlude Consigned To The Ages.

Thrashers looking for a pure, fast experience will not find it here, but those who enjoy old-school death and thrash in general will find little here to complain about. Perhaps a louder bass, next time? Otherwise, Incendiary is easily described as brilliant, one of those passionate and well-played albums that reduces the soulless modern thrash scene to nothing in comparison. Wish I knew about it sooner than I did – but don’t let the delay put you off an excellent album.

Killing Songs :
Incendiary, Descent Of Man, Silent Mortal Flesh (Convergence), Ashen Glory, Gathering The Eagles, Abandon In Place
Goat quoted 86 / 100
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