Ares Kingdom - _Return to Dust_
(Nuclear War Now!, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (8 out of 10)
Ares Kingdom's long postponed moment to blister the mass of disheveled elders and their weaker offspring finally arrives with eight tracks of wrathful metal. The labor of foundational Order From Chaos members Chuck Keller (guitar) and Mike Miller (drums), _Return to Dust_ was recorded in the band's own Very Metal Sound studio, and while featuring more complex arrangements by comparison, maintains the unfiltered aesthetic of their early idols. The group's appeal lies in mature, skilled musicians crafting music generally confined to the ardor of youth -- who remain defiant but not always capable of articulating beyond the illicit impulse or in a way that separates them from their peers. _Return to Dust_ does both.

The hermetic symbolism of Order From Chaos has dissolved into a vision (or votive?) of cleansing annihilation, and Keller's vivid and often inspiring illustrations of terminal battle more than suit the mud march of tracks like "None Shall Escape" and the torch-bearing riffs of "Lamentations". Alex Blume's vocal spillage serve as last rites atop Keller's six-string murrain, dovetailing into triumphant refrain with wild leads reaching for a dust-blocked sun.

Despite its roots in traditional metal, the album is not as nostalgic or easy as it could have sounded -- a testament to the songwriting and energy within, well paced between the essential speed of the opening tracks and later instrumental pieces (including a softer piece that takes off from Bathory). Its old-school nature brazed into every note, _Return to Dust_ is a culmination and taunt: the rest need to do better.


(article published 28/7/2006)

4/18/2006 T DePalma Ares Kingdom: Ares' for the Taking
4/18/2006 T DePalma Ares Kingdom - Firestorm Redemption
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