Album: Reign of Terror
Being a ruler of any group of people—a tribe, country or nation—is tedious; it demands a precarious balance over developing a command and leadership over your people while still maintaining respect and reciprocality. After all, the adage goes: people shouldn’t fear their governments, governments should fear their people. When it comes to keeping respect, loyalty, servitude and freedom balanced, pretty much every person in a position of power establishes a different means of doing so—that is, every person until it comes to the harsh Dominion Acranius hold over the world of slamming, brutal deathcore.
When it comes to Acranius’ reign, there is no freedom—there is only terror.
Reign of Terror is exactly what Acranius claim it to be—oppressive, unending, pure punishment. From “Born a King,” through “Kingmaker,” all the way until the harsh, blistering finale found in “Died a Liar,” Acranius bombard the listener with bold, beefy riffs that drop into prolapse-inducing, viscera-melting slams that corrode the listener’s innards as if they were drenched in hydrochloric acid and promptly set ablaze.
Ablaze is, in a lot of ways, a great way to describe the instrumental whirlwind that Acranius’ style of slam-laden brutality is exemplary of. Reign of Terror is a whirlwind of eviscerating power—a warpath that winds its way directly into the listener’s head. Percussionist Rob Arndt is relentless; dominating Acranius’ dynamic with mind-numbing speed that drops into sludgy, putrid and powerful slams faster than you can blink. “Return to Violence” showcases this brilliantly, transitioning with the speed and piercing punctuality of a lightning strike. Meanwhile, “Kingmaker” sees the band use deep, trudging segues that rely on guitarist Björn Frommberger and bassist Lars Torlopp working together to beat the listener senseless even when Arndt is (rarely) completely absent. Between Frommberger’s furious fretwork that melds straightforward, skull-splitting riffs with barbarbic, beefy chugs and Torlopp’s rumbling, monstrous bass, Acranius take swings at the listener with sledgehammers heavier than anvils. “Born a King” highlights the band at a speedy and sinister mileu, neither too fast nor sloppy and slow in a manner unbecoming of an introductory track; rather, they blend their heavier, slam-laden elements with their brutal death metal roots in a fashion that is truly indicative of the experience awaiting the listener. By the time “The True Reign” kicks in, the listener is barely conscious, passively getting blasted to smithereens by Acranius’ unyielding display of raw, raunchy and ravenous devastation.
If Acranius’ latest album is an armada of slamming aggression hell-bent on cleaving the listener’s head in two, then the band’s frontman, Kevin Petersen is without a doubt the group’s resident warlord. Reigning over every petrifying riff and fear-inducing moment of murderous heaviness, Petersen’s voice is pure filth in the best way imaginable. From his first hellacious howls on “Born a King,” Petersen’s presence dwarves the vocal efforts of Acranius’ previous efforts—both in talent and in production. Cutting through the firestorm of furious instrumentation and dominating over sludgy, sinister slams in “Kingmaker” and “Battle Scars,” as he does in every song the band bring to the listener, Petersen’s lows are deep and full, while his screeching highs and squealing, skyscraping vocal acrobatics are nothing short of stunning. While some songs—like “The Executioner” are relatively unremarkable, vocally, much of Petersen’s work is a brilliant example of slamming, brutal vocal work mixed with just enough of a hint of hardcore-influenced roars to keep things interesting and truly unique.
Unique. There’s a word that doesn’t get tossed around too much with slamming deathcore or brutal slamming death metal—especially not now that the genre has garnered a hefty following. Yet here I am, telling you Acranius’ latest release is just that—unique—because it is. It borrows from the best of both styles of their major influences, creating moments of fast, pissed, powerful energy that drop into devastating brutality without warning, making Reign of Terror an album that surprises the listener again and again. In a genre crowded with clout, monotony and unenthused, sound-the-same bands, Rising Nemesis’ resident overlords of oppressive deathcore-turned-slamming death metal, Acranius, have crafted an album that is truly terrifying.
For Fans Of: Vulvodynia, Sanctioned, Ingested, Analepsy
By: Connor Welsh