It's no wonder people are starting to decide to walk their own paths, away from what we are told to do. They seek immortality, or just comfort, in brutal and loud music. This is where 'II The Maelstrom' comes in. Somehow this album embodies the struggle mankind faces each day, the chaos we endure and the will to keep our heads above water. A.C.O.D. is not a newcomer to the scene, having already released two albums and an e.p. For this album, they worked together with Shawter (Dagoba) and Logan Mader (Machine Head). The result is a fierce death metal album with some influences from thrash, industrial and black metal poured in the mix.
The album immediately opens with brutal riffs and blasting drums, be it in a very technical manner which indeed reminds me a bit of Machine Head but just as much of Children Of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir or Morbid Angel. 'Another Path' is the perfect opener for this vigorous blend of thrash and death metal. It immediately shows what this band is capable of: sheer ferocity and compelling intensity. 'Way of Death' even takes that intensity to a higher level by including some blast beats somewhere in the already highly alternating tempos.
'Abuse Me' seems to borrow some elements from old school death metal and industrial metal alike. But that's clearly not all. As A.C.O.D. describes their music, this is 'blended metal', combining a multitude of styles, including post- and black metal. The clean vocals by Björn 'Speed' Strid also inducate a touch of folk metal. Yet, beyond all these different influences, the mainstay of the vocals clearly breathe death metal and that's exactly where this album should be placed on your CD shelves.
What strikes me most about 'II The Maelstrom' is the high technical quality which is present in each of the thirteen songs. Also the perfect production and massive wall-of-sound it creates are indications that A.C.O.D. sees things big. They have been playing all around France and did some gigs in Japan but the rest of the world is still waiting for them to crawl on stage. With stunning songs like the melodic 'Black Wings' or the death 'n' roll anthem 'Rise' they should be able to find places to perform all over Europe. The perfect variation between ferocity and melody is a welcome addition to today's extreme metal scene, that's for sure.
I can't decide which are my favorite tracks on this album, not because they all sound the same but mainly because of the immense amount of variation thrown into their music. Although I must say 'Cold' is a serious candidate. This song shows more of the musical abilities and, in fact, mixes all previously mentioned elements into only one brilliant track. After that there's still some more furious songs to come, making this a blast of an album, clocking off at a bit over fifty minutes.
Death metal fans won't be disappointed, unless they are stubborn enough to ignore whatever happened after the mid-nineties. Yet, my advice is not to ignore this, extreme metal fans should definitely check this out, both on CD and live. You shall be overwhelmed, you shall be amazed and you shall bang your head in an absolute frenzy. I know I am...