ALBUM REVIEW: Summoning The Cataclysm – Azaab
When you think of Pakistan, the first thing that comes to mind is unlikely to be bone-breaking death metal. Hoping to challenge that initial obliviousness and put their particular brand of howling brutality on the map is Islamabad’s own AZAABwho just released their first album Summon Cataclysm.
Pandemonium Twilight almost lulls you into a false sense of security before those crunchy blastbeats come your way. Quite plush keyboards swirl overhead like an ethereal miasma. That makes a nice intro, but Carbon Plague is the true mission statement. The riffs are engaging, there’s an absolutely gut-wrenching solo halfway through, and the drum work is spot on. It’s aggressive and manages to eliminate the old school itch while maintaining a modern production. Think if HAIL OF BULLETS were really mad about something.
A hollow pact Is a total purifier. Machine gun riffs reinforced with thunderous double kicks are arguably one of the best combinations that exist in any heavy metal subgenre and it makes for a deeply satisfying example. It’s one of those rare tracks that sits right at the base of your neck and challenges it not to move even a little. At this point the listener might well think that the best way to describe this group is so Glen Benton and Trey Azagthoth had conspired to steal the rhythm section of BOLT THROWERS in order to break up piles of old SUFFOCATION blankets. If that doesn’t sell them right away, then maybe it’s not for you.
Turning to the belly of the album, we find preachers of hate. Slightly more technical, but not in your usual style of virtuosity/vanity, just throwing the riffing game into overdrive while simultaneously managing to keep them above the level of digestibility of the usual technical noodle. What he’s doing is speeding up to When worlds collide, which is a testament to the band’s ability to write riffs so mean there’s probably a cordon cordon around them. Not only happy to have hosted some of the album’s standout riffs, we also find some of the most terrific drum work of the entire runtime here. It’s very clear that not only is there an enormous amount of technical skill flowing around here, but that the members of AZAAB are so comfortable with their abilities that they know their purpose is to serve the song, not get carried away with the parade. It really shows and the music is all the better for it.
The Infernal Citadel is an absolute hater. It rips open the door and flies off with all the immediacy and vitriol of grapeshot from the muzzle of a cannon. It just doesn’t let go for its entire runtime and even features a familiar face in the form of Phil Tougas of CHTHE’ILIST and FIRST FRAGMENT, which pours a white-hot solo into this already melted slab of death metal excellence. This might just be your album of choice, even if it’s up against ridiculously stiff competition.
Flesh Trophies is another exercise in technicality without twisting into the realm of over-complicated. It’s taut, well-acted and masterfully constructed. They really know how and when to turn it on and when to step back, which immediately puts them above an embarrassing number of their contemporaries.
Given the apparent sharpness BEHEADED influence present in AZAAB‘s, we should not be at all surprised by the appearance of a cover of The empty throne from 2004 The negotiation. It pays a meatier tribute to what is clearly their mutual favorite track. In all honesty though, if you haven’t read the tracklist or weren’t familiar with BEHEADEDyou could be forgiven for thinking it was just one of AZAAB‘s because of how well it blends in with their source material, and that’s surely the marker of a good cover, isn’t it?
Muscular closer BORN BY BLOOD announces its arrival with a screaming thrash riff and keeps your foot firmly planted on the gas for the entire runtime. He’s one of those closers whose sole purpose is to hammer home the point of the last 40 minutes by smashing you to a pulp, and in that effort he succeeds. More than that though, it makes you think that Summon Cataclysm is an absolutely huge effort. Those of you who, like the author, were completely unaware of the metal scene in Pakistan before your first contact with AZAABare likely to be, like the author, now total converts who rush to explore more of what this region of the world can produce.
Summoning The Cataclysm is out now via Maxima Music Pro/Satanath Records.
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