Diocletian: War of All Against All

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Diocletian: War of All Against All
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Diocletian: War of All Against All
Black Metal, Death Metal
Invictus Productions
October 1st, 2010
Release length: 36:44
Diocletian is a heavily underground Metal act, and by that I mean that you really cannot find much information about them. The band is based out of New Zealand, and formed back in 2004. Up to this point in their career, they have issued a few split and EP releases, and for 2010 released their second full-length recording, War of All Against All. Of course, the whole intrigue of the band’s more underground approach does ultimately lead to a more traditional “kvlt” raw sound to the album. With just under thirty seven minutes of music, does Diocletian have what it takes to make an impact in the underground?

First of all the production is really raw and sounds heavy because of it. The guitars sound alright but more like a higher pitch pulse with a heavy bass presence in the background. The drums sound alright, having a decent click to the bass kicks and a wooden sound to the snares, but the cymbols and the rest of the kit end up sounding pretty muffled, and those bass kicks can really end up drowned out horribly by the louder guitars overpowering the drums that sound pretty distant in the mix. This can also be said about the vocals, as they also sound pretty muffled, but thanks to the echo effect they come across more haunting then anything else with both the wails and growls performed. While this leads to some music that really sounds crushing, you can’t help but feel like the edge of the music is just not there.

For example, “Black Dominion” is a strong track, especially where the bass presence is concerned to create that crushing and dark atmosphere. But when you sit down and listen to it, you can’t help but feel unmoved. There’s nothing all that special about the song, or even many of the other tracks on here other then solid Black and Death Metal on a really low production scale. Shorter tracks like “Desolate Earth” and “Blood Aeon” do pack the most punch though thanks to the fury the band incorporates into the songs. It sounds sometimes like the material is sometimes bordering the line of Grindcore, but with the lesser quality you can’t really tell if that’s the case or not. There’s actually not that many longer tracks on here, aside “Fortress of the Unconquerable” and “Might is Right” among a few others, and some of these tracks can be hit or miss. Even some close to the three minute mark can be a little less then expected. “All Against All” is one of those tracks, and while the guitars leave a hopeless atmosphere, the drumming doesn’t really offer much help and feels a little simpler at times against some faster pace guitar work that doesn’t stop hammering at the listener. However without a good presence from the bass kick, this track, as well as “Might is Right” end up sounding a bit hollow and even a little on the generic side as far as the whole raw Black Metal concept goes despite the stronger Death Metal influence in the performance.

There are still some good tracks on here. “Desolate Earth” really amps up the intensity and is a suiting follow up to “Black Dominion”. Granted the start of the latter seems to just take a while longer then it should have, but the song’s more ruthless sound works well enough that it becomes one of the stronger ones here. You will also find “Kingdom of Rats” to be a strong track. The faster pace here is enriched well with the stronger guitar pressence during the slower drummed parts. “Nuclear Vomited” also stands out with it’s surprisingly clearer openning that gives way to some chaotic Death Metal that feels a little richer through the drumming and more challenging vocally then other tracks. The guitar solos here also match the chaos while working with the bass guitar to keep the song sounding full during that section, though there is a random chord played that leaves a bit of a hollow sound behind it that kind of feels awkward when it hits. The only other track here that seems promising is “Fortress of the Unconquerable” which, given the over eight minute length, could have been epic, especially considering the raw atmosphere and how the vocals felt haunting and more ghostly. But, in the end it’s just a song that trudges along at a slower pace in a ritualistic sound with random bursts of additional effort in the music and even vocals. There are also non-lyric driven vocals that also give way to what sounds like ghostly wails in the background that, thanks to the production quality, become very irritating and a good majority of the time just sound like high pitched noise.

Honestly, War of All Against All is one of those albums that really does not benefit from having a raw production quality. In fact, it’s horribly hurt by it. Some of the tracks on here sound like they are promising, but due to the quality they feel a lot less rich then they should be, leaving it to crushing sound of the guitars, but without any real edge. Because the instruments are just not that crisp, much of the album just sounds like the same thing over and over thanks to the muffled qualities of everything on here that causes many notes to sound like a steady pulsating noise that stays within a general range. The energy and aggression is there, it’s just not captured well enough, making this an album more for background noise since it won’t drive you to headbang or even tap your foot along to it. War of All Against All has some tracks worth undertaking, but really, there’s nothing that much satisfying on this effort aside a few songs once you get the general idea of what’s coming your way after “Desolate Earth”.

01. Black Dominion – 3:58
02. Desolate Earth – 1:11
03. All Against All – 2:52
04. Might is Right – 4:30
05. Kingdom of Rats – 3:49
06. Death Tyrant – 4:39
07. Nuclear Vomited – 3:01
08. Blood Aeon – 1:15
09. Infernos – 3:10
10. Fortress of the Unconquerable – 8:19
Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10
Diocletian (band)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Invictus Records.