Antichrist Siege Machine’s “Vengeance of Eternal Fire”: Superb, blistering war metal for the masses

Antichrist Siege Machine returned with a fiery vengeance this past Friday with their latest studio album. Vengeance of Eternal Fire doubles down on the bands brutality, a move likely to catch fire with both seasoned fans and general audiences.
Antichrist Siege Machine returned with a fiery vengeance this past Friday with their latest studio album. “Vengeance of Eternal Fire” doubles down on the bands’ brutality, a move likely to catch fire with both seasoned fans and general audiences.
Courtesy of Antichrist Siege Machine

Richmond, Virginia’s Antichrist Siege Machine (ASM) just released their third studio album “Vengeance of Eternal Fire” on Friday, April 19, the subsequent album after 2021’s “Purifying Blade.” With newfound popularity in the war metal/extreme metal scene after their sophomore release, fans such as me were eager to see how ASM would handle newfound publicity. Would they be more accessible, losing the trademark extremity that made them so fresh to begin with? Or would they continue their aggressive, visceral style? Oddly enough, Antichrist Siege Machine has done a little bit of both but without a hint of compromise.

Anyone listening to five adjacent seconds of this album will recognize that this is not radio rock; this isn’t Metallica or Bullet for My Valentine. This is the type of Satan-worshipping stuff that Tipper Gore was crying about back in the ’80s. ASM lost absolutely none of their bite or brutality. The opening track “Son of Man” launches directly into blast beat drums and “unleashed hostility.” The balls-to-the-wall, completely-saturated, insane aggression doesn’t stop either, save some guitar feedback at the end of “Prey Upon Them” leading into “Vanquishing Spirit”—one of the album’s two singles—and the album closer “Abyssal Hate.” “Abyssal Hate” is actually one of the album’s highlights, with SB’s barks double-tracked with his screams as the album hurdles to its conclusion, with each biting vocal delivery leading up to the ultimate point of insanity and climax.

Not every song on “Vengeance of Eternal Fire” is as short as “Abyssal Hate”; most stretch for around three minutes, but ASM have perfected this war metal style so well that they are no longer restrained by the grindcore trope of short songs lasting less than two minutes, of which they were obviously devotees for their 2017 debut release “Morbid Triumph.” These three-minute and longer songs are tempered perfectly by catchy guitar riffs that will immediately make you rewind to hear them again. Some examples include the opening riff on “Piled Swine” or “Vanquishing Spirit” and the closing riff on “Sisera” or “Scalding Enmity”—one of the best riffs on the album but only lasting about 10 seconds. ASM package their extremity with immediacy just as they’ve done throughout their career, and in so doing, they set themselves apart from the war metal masses.

This is not to say that grindcore influences can’t be found on this album; in fact, of their three major studio album releases—2019’s “Schism Perpetration” and 2021’s “Purifying Blade”—this is probably the album most influenced by grindcore. One of the lead singles, “Vanquishing Spirit,” sounds like a grindcore song. Its knotted, gnarly riffs throughout are vaguely reminiscent of something off an Agoraphobic Nosebleed release and a D-beat breakdown near the song’s conclusion. ASM have always flirted with punk and grindcore, but it is no more apparent than on “Vengeance of Eternal Fire.” Grindcore is only one of the genres ASM incorporates, not losing the viscerality of black metal—the introductory riff on “Cowering Lamb” will prove that—or of death metal, with SB growling lower than I’ve heard since “Schism Perpetration” on “Prey Upon Them.” I found the lead single “Sisera” to be a bit derivative when it first came out, aping too much of the style of modern, more polished black metal such as Batushka. However, the two-minute long “Sisera” functions much better as part of the entire album, and my fears that Antichrist Siege Machine were “selling out” were overblown.

Continuing the experimentation started on “Sisera,” ASM have made their most accessible album to date, with clean production juxtaposed sharply with the muddy bestiality of “Purifying Blade” and some of their most immediate guitar work ever—“Vanquishing Spirit” is the obvious exemplar here. But the album still maintains a no-holds-barred extremity that will satisfy any die-hard ASM fans (e.g., me) whose expectations were already sky-high. The fact that ASM have yet to put out a bad or even mediocre release this far into their career is astounding; their flawless record continues on the brighter, throttling insanity of “Vengeance of Eternal Fire.” It reminds me, in a way, of Nails’ “Abandon All Life” back from 2013; similarly, Nails followed up their most popular release “Unsilent Death” and, in return, gave us an ear-piercing shriek of insanity which satisfied and pleased all comers.

Verdict: Antichrist Siege Machine have once again delighted fans, which is impressive given their high expectations. “Vengeance of Eternal Fire” continues their unparalleled extremity while providing immediacy and head-banging riffs that will stay stuck in your head. 10/10.

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