Age of Apocalypse
Grim Wisdom

One of my favorite albums of 2021 was the fantastic Decadence and Decay from Oregon’s Silver Talon, an album and a band that certainly have plenty going for themselves on their own merit, but the album was an immediate hit for me not because it was something I’d never heard before – but instead it proudly celebrated a band I hold near and dear to my heart – that being Nevermore.

Of course, Silver Talon is hardly the first band to find success paying homage to the greats of yesteryear, but it further cemented the point that bands don’t necessarily have to always deliver the most original, never-before-heard sound in the world to make amazing music. In fact, if you pour your heart and soul into a sound you’re genuinely passionate about, the results can have just as much impact. To further drive this point home, comes New York’s Hudson Valley Metallic Hardcore troop Age of Apocalypse, who deliver as pitch-perfect an homage to River Runs Red-era Life of Agony as you’re ever going to hear, and it’s a goddamn thing of beauty.

The first thing that jumps out at you is how much singer Dylan Kaplowitz’s distinct vocal delivery sounds an awful lot like LOA’s Mina Caputo. It’s double-take worthy, to the point that when I heard the band’s first single, “The Patriot,” a few months back, I legitimately wondered if some unreleased LOA track had been posted by mistake. But it’s not just Kaplowitz’s vocals that match the legendary act, the band’s preference for that signature heavy, mid-paced attack is spot-on as well, expertly toeing the line between more metal-leaning riffs, floor-punching hardcore gruff, with a whole lot of grungy 90’s sludge vibes ala Melvins or EYEHATEGOD. Third Track “Fury” perfectly encapsulates everything the band is bringing to the table, punching you in the face right off the bat with a punishing, pinch-harmonic-laden riff backed by some of Kaplowitz’s more seething vocals, before giving way to a bit of metallic galloping and those melodic vocals that contrast so nicely. Then it’s right back to the hardcore pacing with some energetic hardcore riffage straight out of Satisfaction…-era Hatebreed, before guitarists Jack Xiques and Terry Orlando bust out some outright thrash fury including a nice little solo, all backed by some furious double-bass work from drummer Will Kamerman. And if it’s some nut-dropping breakdowns you’re looking for, just wait til the bass line drops around the two-minute mark, leading the way into an absolute doozy.

And the doozies don’t end there. There is some absolutely crushing heft about midway through “Rotten Kingdom” that will have you in full-body headbangs, along with the gang-vocal-backed “Ghost (Hart Island)” which will have you screaming to mob the stage at your nearest venue. But it continues to be the band’s ability to switch up the script on a dime that makes Grim Wisdom such a compelling listen. “Pain of Creation” is a superb mashup of Sludge and Metalcore (complete with all the necessary themes of society’s downfall, the self-destruction of humanity, etc. etc.) that would feel just as at-home at a Killswitch Engage show as it would Crowbar. The same could be said for album closer “Casualty of Time,” which really reminds me quite a bit of something you might find on one of Killswitch’s first two LPs, with some melodic vocal lines that sound straight out of Jesse David Leech’s playbook (who also lives somewhere around the Catskills/Hudson Valley, ironically). The band also breaks out a couple “ballad-y” tracks in “Begging the Reaper” and instrumental “Memento” that do a really nice job of changing up the pace and giving a break to the more aggressive majority of the album, reminiscent of how Shadows Fall used to pull a similar trick on tracks like “Casting Shade” and “The Art of Balance.” (ok so obviously Shadows Fall is hardly the only band to incorporate ballads into their sound, but you get the point).

When I got the opportunity to become a writer here at Teeth of the Divine, I came into it with one goal in mind: to help bands and musicians I genuinely enjoy, respect and admire get whatever extra exposure our little platform here can provide. With that in mind, I came into this album with little bit of extra added pressure, too – this being the first album I’ve reviewed that had someone I call a friend on its roster. Luckily, the band made the task pretty simple by providing an album that’s really easy to get in to. While I suspect that Grim Wisdom is going to scratch a very specific itch for a lot of folks, there’s so much the band does right here that a should appeal to a wide-ranging audience. No, this isn’t something you’ve necessarily never heard before, but Age of Apocalypse prove once again that if you do something really well, it really doesn’t matter. I highly recommend you get your hands on this thing for yourselves ASAP.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
January 28th, 2022

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