New Zealand death metal trio Dawn of Azazel have been together for 16 years, but their latest effort The Tides of Damocles is only their fourth album, and first in six years. Not exactly prolific, but they make their releases count, and this new one continues that trend of solid, brutal extreme metal. The band is currently comprised of Rigel Walshe (bass, vocals), Joe Bonnett (guitar), and Jeremy Suckling (drums), all three stellar players in their own right, and together they form a tight, consistent unit.
Walshe has an interesting vocal style, sounding more suited to thrash as it's not a true death metal growl, and with that you can pretty much understand everything he is spewing. He's also very upfront in the mix on The Tides of Damocles, and in some instances that might be a deterrent, but here it works. Sledgehammer riffs and pounding drum fills drive "Vassalplasty", allowing Washe plenty of room to drop in his harsh bellows, and the slightly technical "The Odious Tides" is a furious ride with some splendid drum blasting and off kilter riffing. A few of the tunes here suffer from that 'sameyness' syndrome, but "Controlled Burn" stands out thanks to some great, textured riffs, atmosphere, and maniacal screams, while the near 9-minute closer "Tarnished Gold" is perhaps the most progressive piece on the album, complete with layers of inventive riffs and rumbling rhythms, plus the right amount of dreamy atmosphere.
The Tides of Damocles is ultimately a very solid album, and despite a few songs sounding a tad too similar to each other, they are all pretty enjoyable death metal fare and worth your attention.
1. Strike First, Strike Hard, Strike Often
2. Irresistible Foe
4. The Odious Tides
5. Forever Enduring, Always Ready
6. Controlled Burn
7. Progeny of Pain
8. The Eagles Grasp
10. Tarnished Gold