Heresiarch – Death Ordinance Review

Band: Heresiarch
Album: Death Ordinance
Label: Dark Descent Records
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Country: New Zealand
Release Date: 07 July 2017

The chance that the world as we know it will come to an end on July 7th, 2017 is very slim.  However, on that day, Heresiarch’s first full length album, Death Ordinance, will be released to the world to remind them that the slim chance hangs over the collective heads of all the people on this planet.

Death Ordinance presents a world of the future in which the technological advances of the last century are destroyed by nuclear warfare and EMPs, and the survivors of the world have collapsed into warring tribes.  Scorched battlefields are what remain of our cities, and all surviving technology is reserved for the purpose of killing.  Instruments of death are a currency, spent in exchange for the blood of an enemy.

Since 2008, Heresiarch has been spreading despair drenched in blood to fans of black and death metal.  Hammer of Intransigence (2011), the band’s first release, bombarded genre followers with exactly the kind of music they expected.  They chose to focus on musical precision over original concepts, but that precision certainly got them noticed.  When Wælwulf dropped three years later; fans were ready, and were far from disappointed.  This short album better reflected Heresiarch’s capabilities as musicians and songwriters.

Now, Death Ordinance brings us into the brutal warfare of the future.  As a complete work, the album knows exactly what it wants to be tonally.  Even though the opening track, “Consecrating Fire” is a slow march, the guitar steps right up and punches you in the face.  It just does it slowly.  Then the song picks up, and so does the rest of the album. It beat you down until you are unable to take any more and then it just keeps swinging.  Of course, once you are down and think you are safe from the pummeling onslaught, the vocals enter the ring and continue to drop elbows onto your battered brain.  This is where Heresiarch stands somewhat unique from other bands.  Usually, it is the drumming that lands the hay-makers over and over on your tortured psyche, but in this instance, the drumming is the footwork that keeps the album dancing in and out to ensure you can’t counter.  The rhythm of the overall work changes enough to allow the listener to distinguish individual songs, and is what makes Death Ordinance such a hard album to pin down.  Sometimes it is dancing around with insanely fast blast beats, then (such as the closing number, “Desert of Ash”) it almost stands still on one foot while kicking your lifeless corpse with another.  And that corpse, whether charred from a nuclear blast, dismembered by artillery fire or riddled with holes from enemy rifles, will be kicked, I guarantee it.

Notable tracks:

The opening track, “Consecrating Fire”, is a slow, doom march toward our eventual nuclear near-annihilation.  Each labored beat is an atomic hammer-blow to mankind’s chances for survival, setting the scene for the war-torn songs that follow.

“Storming upon the Knaves” immediately follows in high velocity contrast.  Where the “Consecrating Fire” is orderly and structured, the album’s second track descends into chaos as the weak who remain are preyed upon by those more suitable for post-apocalyptic survival.  Guitar, bass, drums and vocals are all frenzied as sharks in bloody waters.

“Iron Harvest” slowly builds from a lone drumbeat as instruments join in.  This seven-plus minute track contains the cleanest, most structured riffs on the entire album.  The drums maintain a rapid, sometimes frantic, beat, while guitars and vocals continue to slog through the killing fields.

“Desert of Ash” is the result of decades of continuous warfare.  The album’s final track is also the longest, clocking in at nearly eight minutes long.  It is ponderous and heavy, full of despair and emptiness.

The production value on Death Ordinance is very good, which might anger the hardcore purist, but they are likely to forgive Heresiarch that for the amount of bloody imagery and despair they managed to pack into this one album.  From strategic nuclear annihilation, to the artillery and machine gun fire of opposing armies, to dirty-in-the-trenches fights with fixed bayonets plunging into the throats of their foes; Death Ordinance brings us the bloody future that keeps the world leaders of the present up at night.

Rating: 6.5/10

1. Consecrating Fire
2. Storming Upon Knaves
3. Harbinger
4. Ruination
5. The Yoke
6. Iron Harvest
7. Lupine Epoch
8. Righteous Upsurgence
9. Desert of Ash

Total Playing Time: 42:17

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