Review: Above All, Disarm the Gods (2022)

Essex, England's Above All released but one painfully underrated full-length on Roadrunner Records in 1996—which I could've sworn I had written about before, but only on Instagram, I guess—consisting of the type of chugging metallic hardcore that would've been a perfect fit for the peak Victory Records roster of the era. In a surprise twist, the band is now back in action with their first new material—a three-song EP, Disarm the Gods—since their final demo in 1996. Over 25 years later, in other words. Holy shit!

And if you're thinking, "Ahhh, right, they must be stuck in the '90s, reliving past glories," ummm... no! You'd be sorely mistaken.

Right off the bat, this is different, and explores a much more metal-centric approach. Chunky rhythms are accented by discordant dual guitar runs, subtle melodic textures, occasionally blasting percussion or lead bursts, etc. It's almost like they injected their former style with early-2000s Swedish thrash (think The Haunted, Carnal Forge, etc.), in a way that actually brings to mind French legends L'Esprit du Clan.

The gnarly grooves and modern production, however, make things sound very contemporary—such that were I told this was a new group of 20-somethings, I'd believe it. Not unlike my commentary on Hellblind last week, the shift might rub stagnant listeners the wrong way with its almost djent-ish sonic edge, but the roots are still down there supporting the architecture. And I must compliment the stunningly clear mix, as I love that the recording is heavy as shit but doesn't drown out the definition of the bass. Very cool.

With just three songs at roughly three minutes apiece, I'm already curious to see where things head from here. Disarm the Gods is digital-only at the moment, but apparently vinyl is on the way (no concrete details yet, though). Bandcamp should be your first stop—where you can also find the rest of Above All's discography, amongst which the "Saviour" flexi is a personal favorite—and it's also on Spotify and other such sources.