Monday 18 May 2015

Dawn of Azazel - ‘The Tides of Damocles’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 27/04/2015
Label: Self-Released

‘The Tides of Damocles’ CD//DD track listing:  

1. Strike First, Strike Hard, Strike Often
2. Irresistible Foe
3. Vassalplasty
4. The Odious Tides
5. Forever Enduring, Always Ready
6. Controlled Burn
7. Progeny of Pain
8. The Eagles Grasp
9. Damocles
10. Tarnished Gold

Dawn of Azazel is:

Rigel Walshe | bass, vocals
Joe Bonnett | guitar
Jeremy Suckling | drums


When I think of Technical Death Metal I tend to (unfairly) imagine skranky guitars fluttering around like dragonflies, schizophrenic changes whizzing by at phenomenal speeds or homespun “djenters” worrying themselves over angular rhythms in Garageband.  On Dawn of Azazel’s fourth release, the New Zealand trio gives us a much more substantial take on the genre.  The chops, the speed, the whiplash changes, ­ it’s all there, and it’s mostly glorious. 

I rarely find myself nodding along to most “Technical” efforts. It’s usually a cold affair involving something much more cerebral, where I rationalize in real time whatever I’m listening to, analyzing meters and keys, but intent on having a grand old time all the while.  But I love some buttrock too, and there’s always a time to jam out on something that’s visceral and way less intentional. Which is what I found particularly great about “The Tides of Damocles”: They’ve managed to make songs that are definitively technical, but still get you in the gut with shifts that are more surprising than jarring.  

Let’s take the second track, “Irresistible Foe”, for example.  No fussy intros here, we just get straight to the blast beats (because that’s what we’re here for ultimately).  But over that are some jazzy minor 7ths and diminished chords with a shifting, syncopated set of accents that set up the verse seamlessly, then onto a half­time riff, and time change into a fucking awesome foot stomper.  Your average stoner rock band could learn a few lessons on setting up verses and choruses from Dawn of Azazel for sure.  But don’t mistake me: this is fast and brutal stuff with parts galore, more parts than the sum total of Metallica’s First Four.  The magic is that everything makes sense and still kind of feels like listening to “Ride the Lightning”.

Except it’s not “Ride the Lightning”, you won’t find anything terribly boundary pushing here, or terribly experimental.  Lyrically it’s firmly in the “crush my enemies” territory, all done with hardcore vocals instead of guttural (Also, I expected more Satan with being called Dawn of Azazel and all, but I guess that’s more an observation than anything). I don’t know that you could take any one single riff or delay soaked harmony part and hold it up as especially genius either, but I don’t think this album (or band) is necessarily about that. What is unique and special is that they’ve managed to give us something that is fist pumping, but will still annoy the shit out of a casual metal listener. 

Words by: Greg Sheriff

‘The Tides of Damocles’ is available here

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