By Dr. Abner Mality

I still have a broken drumstick that the drummer from ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE threw at me during a local concert years ago. That guy went through more drumsticks than any other skinbeater I’ve ever seen and it’s not hard to figure out why. He didn’t play his kit, he attacked it. And the other guys in the band used exactly the same approach.

After many years off, the band has returned to action and their general plan of action remains the same. AFA plays super down-tuned, knuckle-dragging ultra-heavy sludgecore that’s not quite death metal but who cares, because it’s still so thick and massive. It is kind of dumbed down and not challenging if you’re looking for dexterous musicianship, but it packs a hell of a wallop if you’re just seeking a beatdown. I do think “Ritual Violence” is somewhat more varied than past AFA records, but that bar was set pretty low. Almost everything before this was a breakdown. On this album, we get faster and more violent tracks along with the sludgy breakdowns. A couple of tracks like “Live Through the Storm” and “Eternally Broken” even play with dynamics and have some more subdued, even melodic parts. The latter song is like very heavy post-metal.

The band is at its battering ram best with merciless ragers like “Frail” and “Lifeless” and also those chunky riff-monsters such as “Foredoomed” (with SEPULTURA’s Andreas Kisser sitting in) and “Full of Phlegm”. It’s so simple and basic, but works on a primal level. Judging by “Ritual Violence”, you’d best get ready for a shower of broken drumsticks!