Setting out to prove that subtlety is overrated, London-based metallers, Aghast have nailed their colours to the “bigger is better” mast. On their latest offering, All The Rage, this scarily energetic quartet have produced something so bombastic and combustible that you should be made to wear a hi-vis jacket whilst listening to it.
Having already boasted some of the best album art ever-seen on previous offering, Live Dangerously, another Zak Simmonds-Hurn masterpiece sets the tone for what lies within. The illustration is so gloriously daft yet brilliantly done that Leonardo Da Vinci himself would throw it a “like” on Facebook. Yet, for all its playful silliness, don’t think for a second that the music on offer is taken lightly. The band market themselves as “extreme music”, which frankly saves me a job! When thinking about their sound, there’s a definite thrash bias to it but it frequently becomes more frenetically wild, spiky and unpredictable. As a result, what the band produce is hard to nail down, and all the better for it! By their own admission, Aghast are intent on musically “ripping up the rule book” yet due to the fact that these guys retain a decent ear for melody, what we get is some extremely listenable and catchy metal.
Title track ‘All the Rage’ sets a fist-pumping tone that evokes Testament. The bass sections thumps you in the chest, yet it’s all really well mixed and the guitar tones are awesome. Shout-along choruses often look good on paper but here you have some bona fide crowd pleasers that people can pick up quickly and also get behind passionately. Having said that, even though the band have hit pay dirt with that formula, they show some guts and no small measure of talent to mix things up as the album progresses.
‘Afterlife Crisis’ includes some nicely done clean vocals that add some emotional depth (a-la Killswitch) without dragging the thing down some morose self-indulgent path. It’s back aboard the chug-chugga-chug bus for the intro to ‘Drop Dead Famous’, and it has to be noted that that’s the same bus that bands like Five Finger Death Punch are riding to play to arenas full of people… It’s a standout track on the album, blending some ferocious intensity with enough hook and structure to appeal to a broad range of fans.
There are fantastic beats everywhere you turn on this record and track-after track will have you nodding like a toff at a Conservative party conference. Having witnessed the lads do their thing at Bloodstock recently, you get the feeling that these are tracks written to be performed live. All too often the recording process can rob a band of this electricity but it translates really well here, and as anyone who has witnessed their show will testify, they’re an accomplished live act.
For those looking for music with more of a snarl than a grin, ‘Sea of Trees’ and ‘We Fear Silence’ are punishing and grim slices of near-grindcore. Even then, they’re done really well with the vocals high enough in the mix to remain accessible. On the basis of this offering, Aghast have all the necessary elements to make a splash in the extreme metal scene. Combining really well-crafted, addictive and lively metal with a sense of humour is rarely a recipe for disaster. And frankly, what these guys deserve to make in merch sales alone should see them able to travel far and wide to spread their word. Probably by hot air balloon.
Review: Alex Bishop
All the Rage
Drop Dead Famous
Bang to Rights
It’s Your Funeral
Sea of Trees
Hells Bells (and Buckets of Blood)
We Fear Silence