Artist: Alice Against the Wonderland
There are entire groups–cults, societies, whatever it is you’d like to call them–dedicated to a comprehensive obsession (or fear) of the end of the world. Understandably so; these groups have a somewhat reasonable and understandable discourse in the thought that the only thing more terrifying than your life ending is all life as you know it ending. For those people, who perceive the end of the world/galaxy/universe as an unfathomable darkness from which there is no escape, there is a glimpse of light to be found in the Apocalypse brought to us by German deathcore act Alice Against the Wonderland. Apocalypse, the band’s debut full-length album is a complex, stunning blend of melodic, entrancing death metal with punishing, hard-hitting breakdowns and neck-smashing grooves which bombard the listener into submission, while providing an awe-inspiring sense of comprehensive mastery of all the genre has to offer.
From the very beginning of “Gods Left Us All,” Alice Against the Wonderland create a stunning cathedral of haunting, devastating deathcore. Built upon strong, sturdy pedestals of harmonization and melody, laced with glossy, stained-glass windows of marvelous technicality and topped with a capstone of crushing brutality, Apocalypse is so riddled with innovative writing, it feels as if it might implode on itself. “Gods Left Us All” kicks the album off correctly–allowing both technicality and melody to race alongside one another, neck and neck throughout the first half of the track to try and see who will win. However, just as it seems as if this race-to-the-finish between the two might be null and void, the climactic breakdown crushes the listener’s ears, bringing this marvelous church of sound down to the ground in a maelstrom of rubble and rage. This is archetypical of the album: a combination of marvel-inducing elements, tied together by a pinnacle, climactic moment of crushing heaviness which, rather than throw the album into genericism, casts it upon a gilded pedestal.
Alice Against the Wonderland’s dialectic use of harmony and heaviness is perfected in Apocalypse’s epic track, “Rise of Humanity.” This track shows the band making marvelous use of anthemic, mood-crafting elements like pounding, deep drums and crushing, symphonic riffs alongside visceral, intense vocals. These facets of the track build on each other, brick-by-brick, however, rather than being completely leveled by one iconic breakdown, the track is littered with punctual, painful breakdowns that pummel the listener like jabs, rather than level them as if a haymaker. One reason “Rise of Humanity” really does the album such great justice is that is aids in breaking the monotony that starts to rear its head about halfway through Apocalypse. By no means is the monotony bad, it just is. Certain elements of the album start to become predictable at points, but, “Rise of Humanity” absolutely obliterates this, breaking the established routine and creating a purely perfect deathcore experience the likes of which Alice Against the Wonderland’s peers could only hope to mimic.
Apocalypse, more than any one element or aspect of it’s being, favors a cohesive culmination of its parts to create an immersive atmosphere. “The New Horizon” is exemplary of this; as, really, every track is. Alice Against the Wonderland combine all of their respective components to become an act which is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The same devastating heaviness, which drew the listener to them in, the first works its way into the haunting, technical threnodies which craft a stunning home for the listener’s ears. It’s this atmosphere that is the driving, marvelous component of the album–not just how catchy the riffs are, or how lacerating the breakdowns might be, but rather, the immersive structure which they create. Even though Apocalypse is a concept album involving the end of all things, the manner in which it is created favors order and structure above all things.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive deathcore release which combined punishing heaviness and engaging technicality to create an atmospheric, immersive experience, look no further than Alice Against the Wonderland. Apocalypse is awe-inspiring, catchy and stunning all in one fell swoop. Creating a stacked, sky-scraper like monolith of brutality and melody only to crash it down on top of the listener’s head, the album is, in many ways, very true to it’s name-sake, as it’s sounds resemble both the end of the world as we know it, and the end of deathcore as we know it.
By: Connor Welsh
for Fans Of: Heaven Shall Burn, Oceano, Caliban, Alice Through the Windshield Glass.