Don’t be fooled by the cover art. Looking at the image below, you wouldn’t be laughed at for thinking Elders of the Apocalypse were a power metal band. Warrior wearing a lion skin, a fur Speedo and matching boots, holding a giant axe: check. Topless but spear-wielding woman beside him: check. Subhuman pagan hordes coming up behind: check. It sure looks like power metal. But then you notice that its 11 songs blaze past in less than 25 minutes, and you begin to question that assumption. Reading the song titles also helps clear away any confusion: tracks here include “Ritual Sodomy,” “Mass Murder of Believers,” “Angelripper” (a tribute to Sodom‘s bassist and headman, perhaps?), “Beneath the Boot of a Conquering Force,” “Berserkers for the Goat-Horned Dominion,” “The Thrashing Horde”…this is definitely not power metal. This is at best primitive thrash, and possibly grindcore.

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Well, in fact Elders of the Apocalypse‘s music is primitive and savage, but it’s also unique and worthwhile. The beats, courtesy of drummer Plague Bearer, are pure early ’80s hardcore (think Bad Brains or Minor Threat circa 1982), with extra machine-gun fills and wild cymbal attacks thrown in, while Bestial Tormentor‘s guitar riffs and squealing, unfettered solos recall early Slayer. The vocals, mostly delivered by bassist Sadistik Slayer, are guttural, but not an incomprehensible death metal growl; in fact, they remind me of Brutal Truth‘s Kevin Sharp, whose backwoods snarl always gives that band’s arty grind an extra bit of punch.

Many of the tracks on The Age of Iron open with sampled movie dialogue; some of the most immediately recognizable bits come from Conan the Barbarian—”crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women” shows up, of course. This, and the squealing guitar solos, is the big difference (I’m assuming) between the music of Elders of the Apocalypse and the work these exact same guys do as the grindcore band Your Kid’s On Fire.

There’s not really much more to say. If you like grindcore, primitive thrash a la Venom and very early (pre-Rick Rubin) Slayer, Lair of the Minotaur, and Conan the Barbarian, you’ll like this.

Phil Freeman

Listen to “Beneath the Boot of a Conquering Force”:

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