ARES KINGDOM - Return to Dust (Nuclear War Now! Productions - LP 2006)
Now I am going to remind you one hell of a lot underrated US band – Ares Kingdom! Someone would assume they have all what’s necessary to be more popular, being a successor to the cult of Order From Chaos. But Order From Chaos was never really a mainstream band, but an entity known only to the diehard maniacs of death metal cult, so maybe this why their name didn’t bring more attention to Ares Kingdom. Besides, it took ten years before Chuck Keller and Mike Muller released this album, so people probably forgot about them… but for me it is a lame explanation and I just think Ares Kingdom deserves more attention than they already received. This review won’t change much, but maybe it will introduce this band to some people out there? Who knows… I already reviewed “Incendiary” album, which is my personal favourite in Ares Kingdom discography, now it’s time to describe the debut LP!
When I listen to “Return to Dust” I feel that this LP must have been just exceptional at the time of its release. Why? It’s like swimming against the tide, I think – everybody around tried to play as brutal, as technical and as fast as possible, to the point of nonsense and meanwhile Ares Kingdom came up with an album, which was old school to the bone, where the riffs actually have some meaning and are not just to provide unreadable background for blasting drums and piggy vocals. “Return to Dust” is completely different in that manner; it contains classic metal riffs (based very much on the traditional heavy, speed and death metal… archaic maybe it is, but who cares!), with clearly selected verse and chorus parts, but also with some longer instrumental passages influenced by the classic metal masterpieces… and there’s also this wonderfully organic, warm production – it just sounds like a band playing live, which is not so normal anymore! Yeah, in songs like “A Dream of Armageddon” the heavy metal influence is so clear that only deaf won’t catch them. Obviously it also means that you should not seek for a sheer brutality, death metal violence and obscurity from Ares Kingdom, as “Return to Dust” is just not like that. Obviously it is still damn aggressive album, listen to such “Failsafe”, which probably is the most uncompromising track on the album and tell me if it didn’t force you to bang the head hehehe! It’s just different kind of extreme. But on the other hand such song as “A Dream of Armageddon” is just something completely different; it is kind of epic, you know? It’s almost nine minutes long, slow to mid paced, traditional heavy / death – however that sounds to you hehe – metal song, but listen to some of these riffs, patters, guitar leads…
“Ironclad” is also such song, so it is more lengthy and epic, but I must also mention “Firestorm Redemption” for its aggressive, thrashing riffing. I love that song and it probably is my favourite piece from the whole LP. I don’t maybe understand what was the purpose to include two instrumental pieces one after another close to the end of the album, but that is not something what would really bother me (especially as the riffing in “None Escape” is truly killer!!!!!). And hmm… I sometimes have a small resemblance to Destroyer 666, so if you like these Aussie maniacs, then you know what to expect here, but maybe in more traditional form! But maybe even more I have some resemblances to Pentacle from such LP as “Rides of the Moonstorm” – all in all this is some excellent metal!
I often notice that people tend to compare Ares Kingdom to Order From Chaos, but I won’t do that. I would rather treat them as two separate entities – just like I consider Angel Corpse as separate band from Order From Chaos. Sure, Chuck Keller probably has something like his original, trademark way of composing and guitar playing… but I am not such an expert to break the music into such small details, make mathematic formulas, etc. So, let’s skip all this shit. It must be said though that “Return to Dust” has been released ten years after Ares Kingdom was formed and since Order From Chaos split up, so it is obvious that many things have changes and there’re many dissimilarities between both acts. I see Ares Kingdom as a band, which is more traditional, almost archaic, speaking of their style, which combines death, thrash and heavy metal. And as such “Return to Dust” is just great album, but not my favourite in their discography, as the second LP “Incendiary” is even better. So, I just must recommend you Ares Kingdom… to all of you, die hard metal maniacs; if you still don’t know this band then fix this mistake quickly.
Standout tracks: “Firestorm Redemption”, “A Dream of Armageddon”, “Failsafe”
Final rate: 79/100