My '98-'99 Victory Records catalog (which I still have) describes All Out War (circa-For Those Who Were Crucified) thusly: "Cross the Cro-Mags with Carcass and Burn in Hell." This blurb went a long way toward informing my writing style - at least when it comes to writing about hardcore - but I think it misses the mark just a bit. Substitute Merauder for the Cro-Mags and Slayer for Carcass and now we're in business.
Nineteen years have passed since For Those Who Were Crucified, the record widely regarded as All Out War's masterpiece. Since then the band has sporadically released an EP and four full-lengths, the latest of which is Give Us Extinction.
What sets Extinction apart from the majority of All Out War's catalog is that this release marks the first time that the Crucified line-up has reconvened to make a record. And though albums like 2003's Condemned To Suffer and 2010's Into the Killing Fields were by no means weak, All Out War has surpassed themselves with Give Us Extinction.
The dissonant chords that open the title track quickly give way to an aural mayhem that is sorely lacking in many of today's "heavy" bands. All Out War has always sounded like a rabid animal off its chain, but never more so than on their latest offering. Musically, the band stays true to form, but continues to hone their sound: expertly blending hardcore and metal so that the two genres are inextricable from one another.
From breakneck guitar riffs that sound like they were tracked by Jeff Hanneman's ghost, to crushing, primeval breakdowns I imagine an army of demons could march to, Extinction proves All Out War is still a force to be reckoned with.
But such instrumental skill needs a powerful voice to give it life. As luck would have it, the crown jewel of All Out War has always been vocalist Mike Score. This time around his throat-rending vocal delivery is stronger and more frightening than ever. Tracks like "Circling Vultures," "Burn These Enemies," and "Ingesting Vile" will only further cement Score as one of the most accomplished and recognizable voices in hardcore - equal in stature to Dwid, Human Furnace, Vogel, and Jasta.
All Out War sounds as brutally relevant today as they did in '98 when "Claim Your Innocence" tore through my speakers for the first time. Let's hope Give Us Extinction isn't the last release they see fit to grant us.