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Ashcloud - Kingdom of the Damned

Kingdom of the Damned
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 October 2017, 10:49 AM

ASHCLOUD started under the name SKINBAG in 2005. In 2006 they recorded an EP that never got released. In 2013, Jonny and Gareth started talking about writing old school Death Metal that draws inspiration from both the old Swedish Death metal scene and the Crust movement. After changing their name to ASHCLOUD, they re-mastered the old EP and started recording new material for a full length album. Since 2015, the band have released two full-length albums. “Kingdom of the Damned” is their third, and contains ten new tracks. Death Metal is one of those genres that newer fans are really rabid for, but can fall into a trap of not being able to offer anything new, due to the legions of bands that have come before, and the ultra-narrow genre boundaries. Let’s get to the album to find out what “Kingdom of the Damned” is all about.

“Among the Grotesque” presents a wicked, repulsive and atrocious sound. The rhythm guitars are drop-tuned to the point of no return, and as the open notes sound the strings shake before your very eyes. Deep, repugnant vocals seem to come from the mouth of a foul beast in the underworld. The title track, “Kingdom of the Damned,” opens with some spoken word before firing forward with a burning chaos, leaving bloody entrails in its path. There is structure among the pandemonium as well, which suggests to me a more intelligent approach to the songwriting that can often be missing in this genre. “Dansa pa krossade skallar” roughly translates to “dancing on crushed skulls.” The title is pretty fitting for the track, as the fast-picked guitar chords and blast beat drumming remind of cloven hoof beasts careening down a trail of bodies as fires burn from torches along the way.

“The Serpent King” is both intense and powerful. When the riffs create a marching effect, you can visualize an army of the undead assembling, as a twisted and mutilated beast-man emerges to lead them, with villainous serpents at his side. “The Seven Trumpets of Hell” has some fast moving passages and some slower ones, allowing two different vocals approaches to tell the story and produce the mood. Somber and joyless, it’s sort of an auditory reminder of what secrets might like in the grave. “When Empires Are No More” is describing what could happen in a leaderless society, or at least one where leaders are not elected or appointed from a political system, but rather from the masses themselves. Would anarchy ensue? Is it man’s nature to choose greed and evil over good? The song leaves you with the ability to decide this for yourself. “Megiddo” closes the album. An eerie lead guitar break opens to a track that builds into an ominous sound, as meteors reign down from above and the world ends bloody.

What I think “Kingdom of the Damned” from ASHCLOUD offers to the Death Metal community is an album of vile intensity, with intelligent songwriting, and a bridge to the past that doesn’t just kick up and rehash the old sound, but is littered with the bands own identity and selfhood. There is also a deep rooted sense of evil at every turn, and they really do a good job of visualizing all the things that you fear from what would result a life reborn underground. Sure, most Death Metal isn’t about rainbows and unicorns, but listen to what ASHCLOUD brings to the table.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Among the Grotesque
2. Kingdom of the Damned
3. Suspended in Death
4. Dansa pa krossade skallar
5. The Serpent King
6. Under dodnes vingar pt. 4
7. The Seven Trumpets of Hell
8. A Breath of Decay
9. When Empires Are No More
10. Megeddio
Jonny Pettersson - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Gareth Nash - Guitar, Vocals
Record Label: Xtreem Music


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