Review: “Destruction is All We Know” by Almost Dead

Since the bands inception in Martinez California in 2002 vocalist Tony Rolandelli has dragged Almost Dead kicking and screaming to every dive bar, basement and brick outhouse that would have them take to the stage. The last man standing from the original line up of San Francisco California Bay Area Crossover Groove Thrash outfit, he’s been accompanied by guitarist Zach Weed for the past seven years and two albums with bassist Ryan Glick gracing the drum stool for the past five of those cycles. The pair played a vital role in making 2021 album “Brutal Onslaught” a critically acclaimed release and now the trio are joined by bassist Felix Portillo in the studio for the first time after two years of touring. Together the band recorded album number six at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland California under the watchful eye of Zack Orhen (Machine Head, Nekrogoblikon, Fallujah) who not only recorded but also mixed and mastered…

Over their five albums thus far Almost Dead have cited influences in New England Metalcore and New York Death Metal and that is very much evident from the very start of open cut “Warheads In The Sky“, the band adding a buried almost ethereal synth to add atmosphere to their raging Death Thrash riffs. A powerhouse statement piece of a track with bomb blasting percussion designed to incite mosh put violence, it’s easy to see why Almost Dead have been winning over the masses over the past two decades or more. Rolandelli sounds schizophrenic on “Commandments Of Coercion” as he offers up four different voices in his vocals that genuinely given the impression that there is more than one vocalist at the microphone. That’s done cleverly with good use of vocal layering, his usual bark underpinned with shriller tones before a surprise clean part is brutalised by an unclean layer. What fantastic about this one is that there is a real sense of fun and nostalgia to it with Glick and Weed both bringing out old school flicks and tricks to crack a smile. The solo is an absolute peach and there are nods to Vinnie Paul of Pantera and even Andreas Kisser of Sepultura as it plays out. That sentiment is hammered home by “Eight Eyes Black” which is cut from 90’s Groove Metal cloth and screams class all the way down the route 66. Staccato riff breaks have a satisfying crunch while a tasteful solo in the final moments is one that you simply want to hear more of, if there was an extra verse and chorus on this one there would be absolutely no complaints. There is no let up in quality with “Nightmare Coming” as Almost Dead put the pedal to the metal for a heavy end of Metalcore flyer with chunky breakdowns and groove laden riffs galore. The pace and energy is enough to send a shiver down the spine, resisting headbanging on the first listen is utterly futile and if you’re not screaming along after a couple of spins then you need to see a Doctor.

Within The Ashes” then races out of the traps at a blistering pace, a punchy little number that finds Rolandelli spitting blood in the first half before the synths come into play for a sinister passage of Death Metal class from which rises a majestic solo. Reminiscent of Morbid Angel at their finest, this one is nothing short of darkly epic and crafted to perfection. Another juggernaut with flavours of Angelus ApartidaAgent Of Chaos” absolutely rips and is rammed full of catchy lyrics and riffs that get inside your head and never leave. After the chaotic drunken debauchery depicted in “Agent Of Chaos” follow up “Brutal Devotion” finds Rolandelli ranting about needing to change his life style accompanied by a couple of classic whammy bar moments that immediately make you think of Power Trip. If the title didn’t give it away, the cut is a clenched fist of integrity and a monument to the lifestyle that is all things Metal. An introspective lyrical narrative to which we can all relate “Selfish Suicide” is a call for help from the pain of an existence which shatters our dreams and breaks our hearts while never slowing down from the principles of keeping things heavy. The downtempo final third loaded with samples is the absolute Chef’s Kiss and will keep you coming back to the album like an addict to their dealer. The rampaging “Where Sinners Cry” is the kind of brutal grand finale that every fan wants from their favourite band. Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal inspired riff moments separated by crunchy American Death Metal passages and blast beats galore make this one the nightmare that dreams are made of. An unstoppable force of nature, Almost Dead have got what it takes to reduce everything to rubble and showcase it here in incredible fashion [9/10]

Track Listing

1. Warheads In The Sky
2. Commandments Of Coercion
3. Eight Eyes Black
4. Nightmare Coming
5. Within The Ashes
6. Agent Of Chaos
7. Brutal Devotion
8. Selfish Suicide
9. Where Sinners Cry

Destruction is All We Know” by Almost Dead is out 26th January 2024 via Innerstrength Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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