Year of Desolation - _Year of Desolation_
(Prosthetic Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (9 out of 10)
Fist pumping, trip hammering, heart stopping, scrotum tightening malevolence... Year of Desolation lay it all on the table up front with the title of their first song: "Elitist Death Squad". Short, sharp drum rolls punctuate angular amphetamine riffs. Melodic leads burst into the fray but are quickly beaten back and punished for their insolence by a barrage of jackhammer beats and no-bullshit triplet abuse. The vocals rip through the maelstrom with all the heat of a sulfurous wind at their back. And through it all, never has anything so God damned dirty sounded so infernally clean.

Occasionally, for brief moments, the band will slow down a bit and smell the roses. Apparently the pollen doesn't agree with them. A convulsive regurgitation quickly seems to take hold and paint the primary hues of nature's fruit with more of a -– how shall we say it? -– pastel patina. Similarly with the Maiden-esque dabbling in melodics: "Suffer Thy Nemesis" pulls the duality off quite well but can't keep the beast caged for long, eventually succumbing to a carnal rage made all the more potent by an apparent guilt trip over "going soft" in the first place.

Year of Desolation's toying with this gentler nature remarkably continues for a second effort in a row -– "Erasing Your Existence" -– but by mid-song vocalist Chad Zimmerman has suitably chastened the rest of the band into compliance with his own disciplined brutality. Yes, YoD are at their best when racing along at a breakneck clip, but that doesn't mean interesting things don't happen when they attempt to arrest the progress of their inner juggernaut. "Gorge" begins with a moody chord sequence that lasts literally all of two seconds (maybe a couple of half-notes at best) before kick starting a veritable shitstorm of cacophony, finally abating into a mid-tempo groove chocked up with melody. By the final third of the song, however, all that restraint has gotten under the band's skin, and the resultant energy blurt (there's really no other word for it) is arguably the heaviest minute on the album. Throughout, chops abound, skins are flayed, heads are rolled, but the tension wrought by the contrasting dabbling between high speed savagery and controlled, melodic reflection is _Year of Desolation_'s strong suit.

In this age of renewed interest in musicianship and a respectable production sheen, it's not unusual to stumble across a new band that sports great potential. Rarer yet, though, is the discovery of a band that has all the elements for greatness present right out of the gates. Year of Desolation are that band.


(article published 14/2/2007)

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