Genre: Death/Thrash Metal | Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Location: Kansas City, MO, USA | Listen: Bandcamp
Ares Kingdom should pretty much be a household name now in underground metal, considering they’ve been around for almost 20 years, and members were also part of the legendary death metal band Order From Chaos. 2015 sees the band releasing their third full length album, meaning it’s been a good five years since their last one. However, Ares Kingdom have not been silent over that time frame – they released an album of cover songs that also acted as a “studio experiment” in terms of the band increasing their knowledge in the audio production side of things. “The Unburiable Dead” benefits greatly from the time spent learning new production techniques, and stands proudly among the rest of the band’s discography.
Obviously, people are going to be comparing this record to “Incendiary” (which is a masterpiece) and “Return to Dust.” First, “The Unburiable Dead” only contains seven tracks, but also features the longest Ares Kingdom song to date. There’s some epic songwriting to be heard, as songs build up mid-paced tempos to more frantic parts. The album opens up with its second longest track, “Ubique,” and after a few minutes of opening riffing, Alex Blume’s toxic vocals rip through some manic thrash riffs. At this point, it’s clear that fans of the previous two records won’t be disappointed.
Chuck Keller is on top of his lead playing on this record. He’s ripped some amazing leads throughout the years, and all those years of experience seem to shine through here, if the first track doesn’t give that away already. His sense of melody and phrasing are on point, and to me are exactly what a metal lead guitar is all about.
There’s a great variety of tempos on this record. It seems to me like the mid-pace tempo is a little more prominent here than on previous Ares Kingdom releases, but don’t let that fool you. Songs like “Nom de Guerre” and “Demoralize” are pure thrashers, filled to the brim with riffs that have all sorts of twists and turns. Listen to some of those picking patterns within – the main riff in the title track has this great part that varies between down picking and tremolo picking, and it’s some serious neck snapping stuff.
Mike Miller’s drum performance is also great on this – he’s always been a master at creating grooves within chaotic thrashing riffs, and he certainly has maintained that skill throughout the years. His kick patterns are never stagnant, and thanks to the solid production job, you can really hear that he’s hammering the shit out of that kit with some heart.
Once again, I have to come back to the production of this record. I’ve always appreciated the fact that Ares Kingdom self produce their music. Furthermore, it’s apparent they’ve become better with it over time. The guitar tone is dense with gain and truly massive, but you can still make out the notes even on speedier riffs that dance around the fretboard. But perhaps maybe the greatest part of this record’s sound is how warm and natural it sounds together. There’s no ridiculous modern production techniques here.
The album closes off with another epic tune, and as I mentioned, is the longest song in Ares Kingdom history, clocking in at over 10 minutes. There is no stagnation as the song plays through, and once again, it’s due to a great variety of riffs and feels. There’s even a blastbeat on this song, something that wasn’t even present in the Order From Chaos days. The closing riff itself seems very appropriate, as it feels victorious yet has a sense of desolation, much like the end of a long fought war.
It’s hard to say what the best Ares Kingdom record is at this point, because all of them are solid thrashing death metal records. It’s great that a band can have this kind of consistency in the quality of their music, and even better than they’ve managed to improve recording quality through the years. If you like what Ares Kingdom has done before, this album will satisfy you without a doubt. There are no bands that sound like Ares Kingdom, and I can only hope they continue to unleash pure metal warfare for years to come.