The album starts off with “Tortured with Hate,” taking a few seconds to break some glass before hammering into a blistering, assertive performance. The atmosphere the music gives off is rather creepy, though the sharper audio quality pulls away from that territory a bit. The song mixes machine gun paced drumming with some catchy grooves that are restricted more to the mid-tempo sections that offer the best opportunities to bang your head to next to the ominous conclusion that is just shy of being a crushing slam oriented breakdown. While this sets up the release, it doesn’t establish everything you’ll come across, such as the enthusiastic “Atrocities.” This one also has its fair share of infectious grooves behind it similar to what Bloodbath would offer. It also introduces some raspy vocals that are a little closer to the forefront than the growls are. It is a bit distracting, but still kind of completes the sound without venturing into straight Exhumed-style worship, though some sections definitely could pass for that signature sound.
“Sacrifice of Existence” presents faster technical riffs that weave an aura of paranoia. Sadly what follows doesn’t quite compare, trying to be intimidating but just not hitting the mark. The ending, however, finds the drums creating a ritualistic performance that does manage to bring things around to that early sense of feeling like you should be watching over your shoulder, making up for that slight lapse in impact beforehand. “Contempt” also has that ritualistic touch to the performance, but only earlier in the track. This one also brings the tone of the audio down to a deeper level, one that really could help some of “Sacrifice of Existence” out. The slam towards the end also gets some extra bite from it, allowing the static-rich guitars a more blunt assault that makes them the vital instrument instead of the louder drums that really dominate the mix. “Disbelief” ends up a mixture of Dismember styled Swedish melodic hooks and eerie, haunting Deceased atmospheres at the start. It isn’t consistent though, eventually jumping between the two through the rest of the song. It’s an interesting approach that also pulls the most energy out of the group since “Atrocities,” and makes for a suiting memorable conclusion.
The Brutal Death Metal genre has become rather stagnant over the years thanks largely to today’s Deathcore bands embracing it and dumbing it down to the most mechanical paint-by-numbers process imaginable. Thankfully that’s not the case here. Against the Storm doesn’t fall victim to the generic practices of abused pig-squeels, lifeless robotic riffing, pristine production values that remove all bite, or cheap and ineffective one-chord breakdowns. Instead the music feels natural, throwing a good deal of variety that still remains fluid even when it seems to go a bit too far. With comparisons that can be made to the brutality of Hate Eternal to Death Metal monsters like Bloodbath or even Kataklysm, Annihilation present a release that is a welcome breath of fresh air, reminding fans of the genre how brutality is supposed to sound, or at least how it could in this day and age.