Album Title: War of All Against All
While I loved the wall-of-sound production Diocletian used on Doom Cult, this record's clear and crushing mix sounds even better. The bass and rhythm guitars are heavy as hell, yet the vocals and lead guitar parts shine through, and everything's easy to make out; this makes the band's chaotic riff-based songs much easier to follow. Best of all, the drums are much more audible than they were on Doom Cult, and they give the album a whole new dimension of variety and power. Overall, this sound on this album reminds me of Diocletian's Decimator mCD, only with more muscle.
As with the last album, "relentless" is the keyword here. Diocletian constantly bludgeons the listener with varied drumming and churning riffs, all over a foundation of rumbling bass lines. The result is unbelievably heavy, yet there's plenty of variety here: this album shows more of the band's death metal roots than the previous one did, even though there are fewer solos. There's a good dose of Bolt Thrower in the slow parts, and the shifting guitar work and crazy solos in "Death Tyrant" remind me of Order From Chaos; there are even a couple of one-minute songs with a heavy grindcore influence. Every single song bears the Diocletian mark, though.
After a short intro, "Black Dominion" starts the album off with a distinctive, industrial drum/riff pattern which then dissolves into headlong chaos... you couldn't ask for a better introduction to this band. "Desolate Earth" is short and to-the-point, with grinding guitar and one of the most memorable guitar lines on the album, all packed into a minute thirteen. The title track is as overwhelming as its Hobbesian name suggests: it really does feel as though you're under attack from all sides, as the drums and guitars pound you like unstoppable mortars! The incredible, doom-laden "Might is Right" is a fitting tribute to Ragnar Redbeard, bristling with vicious pick slides and monolithic riffs. Between the stomping mid-paced sections, cavernous vocals, and triumphant main theme, this has quickly become my favorite Diocletian song. "Death Tyrant" is nearly as good; this song is packed with great drumming and simple-yet-clever riffing. "Infernos" combines an over-the-top beginning with a rumbling middle section and an anthemic, stomping ending -- headbanging is mandatory with this one!
The album's closer, "Fortress of the Unconquerable", is the doomiest thing this band has yet recorded. Crushing bass and guitar combine with stripped-down drumming to form layers of oppressive, industrial heaviness. Distant, echoing vocals will have you straining to make them out, but whether or not you manage to comprehend them, the message is clear: "Chaos... chaos... chaos..."
I must admit that I don't like the outro, though: the high-pitched screeching which ends the album would have been interesting for a minute or two, but it's difficult not to skip when it goes on for five. It makes it hard to listen to this album on repeat, which is a bit of a shame, because WoAAA is otherwise perfectly suited for it.
I can't recommend this album enough. Anyone who liked Doom Cult is sure to enjoy this, as will those who preferred the clearer production on the band's mCDs and singles... and newcomers to the band should prepare to be overwhelmed. War of All Against All is easily the best war metal release of 2010, and a strong contender for best overall. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "All Against All" "Might is Right", "Death Tyrant", "Infernos"