For me, as a combination of words, “hardcore death metal punks” ranks up there with “two for the price of one” or “honestly, that’s a lovely tie”. So when the new Coldwar album landed in my inbox, I was like a kid at Christmas. Admittedly however, a Coldwar Christmas would be one lay bare the failings of a jaded society, awash in the filth of superficial materialism. Hmmm, it appears I’ve just broken the irony filter on my computer…
Pulling absolutely no punches, Pantheist is an un-muzzled Pitbull of a record. With the band citing lyrical influences such as “darkness of the soul, esoteric symbology, natural evil” and “scrutinization of the irregularity of the Gregorian calendar”, you can safely assume there aren’t too many radio-friendly ditties here. Instead (and you have to admire the commitment of the band to maintain the focus over a whole album), you get tracks that land like a barrage of artillery shells, detonating inside your skull.
With a blend of styles that ranges from atmospheric black metal to near-grindcore, Coldwar have produced an album that is as complex as it is furiously brutal. The lingering riff of ‘Heart of Darkness’ helps paint their bleak dystopian landscape, with the lyric “This is the way the world ends…” merely serving to nail down the coffin lid on any hope you might have fostered for mankind.
Whether the band are dabbling with a more thrashy pace (“Mazu Awakens”) or taking on Gojira for the “Weightiest Riffing Known To Man” crown (“13th Moon”), there are blood, sweat and tears poured into every note and anguished howl. It’s actually a massively complex record (probably more so than anyone would first suspect) and it deserves repeated plays and some attention to really get to the heart of what the band are doing. Whilst there are slower moments, like the stripped-back intro to “The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer”, it’s akin to the respite you get when you’re ascending on a rollercoaster. You just know things are about to get mental but when it comes, it still takes your breath away!
In case you haven’t been able to glean the timbre of the album yet, Pantheist is just one extremely brutal record. The variation, intricacy and layering of a track like “Ghostdance” stands it apart from other straight-up death metal but it’s hard to be left anything other than speechless, breathless and numbed from the first couple of spins. Even a seemingly linear riff like that in “Consciousness Paralysis” ultimately gives way to more vitriolic and frenzied vocals (Crikey, he’s annoyed!) and it leaves you with a sense that this is what Heaven Shall Burn would sound like if they truly committed to their social commentary bit…
Put plainly, this is an eye-gouger of an album. It’s not for the faint hearted or part-time metal fan, as it deserves a degree of dedication to get right inside it. On a seemingly mundane point, the production is fantastic and you get every blow delivered exactly how and when the band wants you to receive it. As a band that have already shared the stage with the likes of Sepultura, Suffocation and Napalm Death, Coldwar are an accomplished and established extreme metal act that cater for those fans who like their aural abuse direct and undiluted. This is definitely a record that is worth strapping in and gritting your teeth for.
Review: Alex Bishop
1) Heart Of Darkness
2) Ether Child
3) Mazu Awakens
4) 13th Moon
5) The Falcon Cannot Hear The Falconer
7) Consciousness Paralysis
8) Abandonment Of Being
9) Last Days Of The 4th Sun