Allfather - A Violent Truth (Cover Artwork)


A Violent Truth (2023)

Trepanation Recordings

Allfather are a solid embodiment of a UK cult band. Based in a parochial town as opposed to any of the UK’s heavy music hotbeds (such as London, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc.), loved by many of those ‘in the know’, never fitting too snugly into any one scene or genre and, crucially, remaining criminally underappreciated for what they produce, and have been producing, for some time now. The fact that they continue to do so (and with great conviction as I’ll come to) is testament to their love for this music. Even better though, it’s also testament to the anger and rage they feel for the societal injustices they see very day.

Because Allfather make angry music. Though we’re not looking at purely nihilistic frenzy here, to be clear. It’s a chest-beating, red-blooded fury. But one that is influenced by Cancer Bats, Melvins, Kyuss, Metallica, Red Fang, Clutch, Converge and plenty more besides. It feels lazy to describe the unholy din they create as an amalgam of all of the vein-popping metal subgenres you can think of, yet that is kind of what it is. There is swagger, ten-ton riffs by the truckload, throbbing, deep guitar and bass tones, clattering, stentorian drums…but there is also patience and craft. “A False Peace” shows beyond question that here is a band capable of wielding a weapon of extraordinary power but doing so deftly. However, that light touch is then cast aside for maybe the most savage few minutes on the record. “The Hunt Infernal” introduces black metal blasts and scathing vocals, but offsets them (with absolute unapologetic abandon, I might add) with d-beat, metallic edges and ultimately the sort of muscular, swinging hardcore that you can imagine booting in a saloon door to, dropping a once-in-a-lifetime one-liner, before gleefully and righteously blowing every malignant motherfucker in there away. The slower tempo and winding yet purposeful lead guitar lines that characterise the second half of the song even gift a filmic quality to those latter stages, compositionally speaking. You may have gathered by this point, I’m a bit of a fan.

The record is clearly aware of its savagery, and sticks around for less than half an hour, possibly as a result. I’m about to level a criticism at a record that I rarely do; I think this could have done with being 6-7 minutes longer. One lengthy track or a couple of ragers, maybe. I don’t know. 6 tracks, all of which feel very distinct and possessing their own character is wonderful, but because they do feel so well-defined, you’re able to notice there are only six of them when the final track arrives. But credit where it’s due, “Cast Off The Cross” really does feel like a denouement. It basically begins its blaze of glory about halfway through its runtime and thrashes and wails its way through its death throes like T1000 in the smelter at the end of Terminator 2. Which feels like an apt comparison, I guess. Raging, liquid, metal.

There are moments of calm, of fragility, even. But more than anything else, this record is an absolute fucking barn burner of a ride. It feels constantly propulsive and engaging. It’s quite a feat to encompass so many styles and appear to be comfortable in all of them. It's worth highlighting Tom’s vocals at this point, I think. Roars, barks, screams, growls, all present and correct. But the word that springs to mind most immediately is commanding. Though Allfather do have the feel of a beer-soaked group of deviant chums (I couldn’t speculate for a second as to the accuracy of that characterisation), Tom does a mean job of anchoring the songs and giving them a consistent character even through the swirling maelstrom of styles, syncopation, solos and spite. He does so though, without ever drawing focus too much. Allfather is a band after all, and they really sound like one.

I had listened to Allfather in the past and found them to be a damn good band. But cards on the table, I don’t think I suspected they had a record like this in them. But that’s not much in the way of criticism because frankly, not many bands do. The fact that this particular record has been hewn from a combination of frustration, righteous indignation and a good old-fashioned unwillingness to be beaten down by the world that keeps trying its best to break your spirit, is clear to hear. And that’s so fucking cool. Some bands can write songs really well. In A Violent Truth, Allfather have birthed both a document of themselves and a snapshot of the period in which it was conceived and produced. Which says truly awful things about the world we all live in, but truly exceptional things about Allfather as a band.