Reviews last updated
March 16, 2011.
REVIEWS OF RETURN TO DUST
Hopefully you've been waiting for this one with as much enthusiasm as I have. Somehow, it has taken this OUTSTANDING band 10 years to put together an LP, though I suppose I'm not exactly in a position to complain, considering I only caught wind of them early last year, when I chanced upon the incendiary 'Chaosmongers Alive' EP. Following said masterpiece, the band proceeded to set my world ablaze with the utterly MAGNIFICENT 'Firestorm Redemption' 12 inch, one of the VERY FEW recordings that have managed to shatter my vehement anti-vinyl stance. I promptly knighted the band as the most exciting band in contemporary metal, and hollered the name Ares Kingdom across every record store and internet corridor. The words 'Return To Dust' have been etched into my wall since the beginning of the year, and between extended, 'Firestorm Redemption' -fuelled headbanging sessions, I have muttered incantations in the hope that they would expedite the record's release. Here we have it, then, and it is absolutely EVERYTHING I expected, and arguably even MORE than I had anticipated.
Yup, this is a thing of beauty. A complete, remarkably balanced, brilliantly constructed record that, unlike most records that take 10 bloody years to make, assertively justifies each and every day we've been made to wait. This album is a triumphant hymn to the timelessness of true fucking steel, proof positive that there remains a vanguard, a bastion of heavy metal that refuses to yield to the insidious influences of modern sterility and conformity. Necessary. Rating: 9.7
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The sound on this album is ideal. There's a touch of distortion on the guitars, which adds a perfect amount of roughness to the sound. The drums have lots of impact, the bass is just loud enough, and the vocals are way up front, a choice that makes them surprisingly easy to understand.
Return to Dust is easily the best album so far this year. Ares Kingdom is the perfect blend of everything that makes metal so damn great, and this album is the pinnacle of their work so far. On top of that, this CD costs $5 from the label. Five. Dollars. Why are you still reading this? Go get it, and while you're at it, get the "Firestorm Redemption" mini-LP -- it comes with two songs that aren't on the album. Highest recommendations!
Read the entire review at: www.vorfeed.net
Releases from ARES KINGDOM are few and far between, but it's more or less a given fact that when they do bestow new material on us, it's going to be quality material. Before now, the only things I had heard by them was the original demo from 1997, a special CDR with a couple of rough mixes from this album, and then the songs they played live at the Nuclear Holocaust festival in 2005. So yeah, I've been looking forward to Return to Dust with a "can't fucking wait much longer for this" kind of attitude. Well, here it is, and I'm not disappointed. The year 2006 has barely even started, and we've already got a serious contender for the best album of the year. I really can't recommend this album of thrashing death enough. As a fan of the true underground, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. ARES KINGDOM practically defines what is meant when warriors like us talk about the "metal of death."
- Tom Wren
From the May 2006 issue of Metal Nightmare
Ares Kingdom's long postponed moment to blister the mass of disheveled elders and their weaker offspring finally arrives with eight tracks of wrathful metal. The labor of foundational Order From Chaos members Chuck Keller (guitar) and Mike Miller (drums), _Return to Dust_ was recorded in the band's own Very Metal Sound studio, and while featuring more complex arrangements by comparison, maintains the unfiltered aesthetic of their early idols. The group's appeal lies in mature, skilled musicians crafting music generally confined to the ardor of youth -- who remain defiant but not always capable of articulating beyond the illicit impulse or in a way that separates them from their peers. _Return to Dust_ does both.
Despite its roots in traditional metal, the album is not as nostalgic or easy as it could have sounded -- a testament to the songwriting and energy within, well paced between the essential speed of the opening tracks and later instrumental pieces (including a softer piece that takes off from Bathory). Its old-school nature brazed into every note, _Return to Dust_ is a culmination and taunt: the rest need to do better.
by: Todd DePalma (8 out of 10)
Read the entire review at: www.chroniclesofchaos.com
Mere words just can't describe, I would say this even usurps the best of Order From Chaos and even Vulpecula. I was VERY glad to hear this as I know this should rise to the top of the metal scene, and if it doesn't that proves
that all is truly lost in metal... Your guitar playing and songwriting is
fucking OUT OF THIS WORLD... Remember when we used to talk about real
songwriting as opposed to just compiling riffs together? The songwriting
skill exhibited on the CD ALONE should garner Ares Kingdom's place in the
Golden Hall... At any rate THANK YOU!!!!
- Keith Dempe, The Bestial Kommand of War
Ares Kingdom - Firestorm Redemption
(Nuclear War Now, 2006)
With a precious few demo tapes released in the years following their tempestuous exit from Order From Chaos, Mike Miller and Charles Keller have remained as dedicated partners in Ares Kingdom. Now, as the group prepares for the release of their first album, they offer this splendid vinyl EP, featuring one cut from the upcoming full length and two re-recorded tracks unique to this release.
Like a crude industrial machine, Ares Kingdom grinds through their task wearing a surly mask of age, chuffing rhythms of loosely put death/thrash with a production caked in rust. Although fairly moderate in tempo, these tracks escalate into a lightning haze; war rages between crash cymbals and strings where Keller's melodies emerge victorious from well-spent rubble. This isn't the full scale riot of sound that made a reputation for its members, though it shares familiar traits. So far, more lyrically urgent and taken by a romantic sense of melody ingrained in the songs and especially the heavy metal soloing.
Conflict is furthered by vocalist Alex Blume, who intones failure and termination through a sludgy yet perfectly understood narration. Like some looming figure of Thanatos, Blume's dramatically low voice evokes dread blending easily into the guitar's sustained crunch, uniting technology with the bestial and a hint of the beyond. Hopefully then, this outfit goes on to fulfill the promise of their more calculating savagery.
- Todd DePalma
Read the entire review at: Chronicles of Chaos.com
I got the 12" and it kills!!! I just can't say anything else about it. I played it over and over and over again. Damn good stuff! It's really a pleasure to listen to your new stuff. Of course the old classic tune has come out awesome as well. I'm really looking forward to hear the upcoming releases as well. I really think your Metal will kick some good ol' asses in the scene! Sorry for being so blunt, but the 12" really freaked me out in a positive way!
- Wannes Gubbels, PENTACLE
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Genre: Blackthrashing Death Metal
Nach langem Warten lag endlich die CD von Ares Kingdom in meinem Briefkasten und ich war echt gespannt, ob sich meine geradezu immense Erwartungshaltung bestätigen oder ich ein weiteres Mal enttäuscht werden sollte. Schon mal vorneweg: Meine Erwartungen wurden übertroffen!
Ares Kingdom schaffen es auf ihrem Debut, geschickt messerscharfe Riffs mit Atmosphäre zu verpacken und das ganze trotzdem wie aus einem Guß wirken zu lassen. Wenn mich jemand fragt, was für einem Genre Ares Kingdom zuzuordnen sind, dann hätte ich schon meine ersten Probleme, da man wirklich nicht genau sagen kann welcher Teil von deren Sound der gewichtigste ist. Black, Death, Thrash, irgendwie verwursteln die vier aus Kansas City das alles und bekommen trotzdem eine innere Konsistenz in ihre Songs, die man nur bei den besten Bands des extremen Sektors findet. Gerade die Songwritingfähigkeiten von Chuck Keller sind hier mehr als beachtlich. Der Mann schreibt einfach verdammt gute Songs, ohne sich darum zu scheren, in welches Genre er dadurch gehört und hat auch seine handwerklichen Fähigkeiten seit den alten Order From Chaos Zeiten (bei denen auch Drummer Mike Miller mitmischte) stark verbessert, was er mit den zwischen Chaos und Harmonie pendelnden Soli eindrucksvoll beweist. Auch der Ex-Nepenthe Sänger Alex Blume kann man hier noch mal extra hervorheben, da er mit seiner ausdruckstarken Stimme die perfekte Intonierung der teils tiefgründigen Texte gibt.
Anspieltips sind auf jeden Fall der starke Opener „Firestorm redemption“ (oben als Direktlink zum Mp3), das episch-getragene „A dream of Armageddon“, das melodische Riffmonster „Lamentations“, das Instrumental „None secape“ und der perfekte Rausschmeißer „Ironclad“. Die Produktion ist für ein Undergroundwerk geradezu perfekt und büßt durch den rau verzerrten Sound der Gitarren nichts an Charme ein.
Insgesamt gesehen habe ich schon den ersten der absoluten Topfavoriten für das beste Album von 2006 gefunden und glaube, dass dieses Meisterwerk nur noch vom nächsten Manilla Road Opus getoppt werden kann, weshalb hier nur die Höchstnote angebracht ist. Die CD ist absolut empfehlenswert für alle Fans der extremen Marschrichtung des Heavy Metal, sei es Thrash, Death oder Black.
Bewertung: 10/10 Punkten
Redakteur: Florian “exumer” Malm für metallized.de
I'm writing to find out the status of Ares Kingdom. I've written to you in the past, but now I can't seem to recall why it was. Regardless, I didn't pick up your demo then, but as the web would have it I've recently acquired your demo. It has blown me away! The world of metal is a fucking big one and it is impossible for me to pretend to keep up, but your demo is a perfect example of the reason why I do. I know it is not too recent now, but only a handful of releases since then have really moved me in a way similar to your demo."
- T. Davis, Oregon
* "This is one truly powerful band. The sheer extremity is throughly steeped with some intense, catchy, and melodic music. The vocals are very similar to Order From Chaos (which of course this band features O.F.C. main-man Chuck Keller), however mimic the great rhythms of the music and have a little Bathory Viking-era tinge to them. I really cannot say enough about the ARES KINGDOM, they are just great, pure and simple. The riffing on here is heavy and the drums pounding, the structuring and flow infectiously headbangable. Top notch metal from veteran undergrounders. Get this and find out why ARES KINGDOM rule the land!" – Canadian Assault #2 – Canada
* "This is a two man band consisting of Chuck Keller on vocals, guitars & bass & Mike Miller on drums. With just one listen its hard to believe that this is only two guys. This is very good Death Metal with some Black Metal influences. The vocals are really low deep Death growls. The music wasn't extremely fast, but was fast enough to keep the music flowing & keep you very interested. The guitar sounds were really speratic & technical at times. Very fast, intense double bass drumming happening hear too! This is two very extremely talented guys who know how to play some heavy music. Enter their kingdom!" -- Satan's Candy Basket #4, U.S.A.
* "This starts things off with "Solis Lacus (Ares Kingdom)," which is a cool mix of primal black/thrash with mid-paced death. The haunting spoken passage behind the vocals and music in this first song right in the beginning was very cool. Those who might have seen Wes' business cards from ‘Midnight 666' should find the spoken words familiar. "The Undying Fire" is the 2nd song here and is equally as aggressive and memorable as the first song only this song is more mid-paced and not as fast. The 3rd and final track "Blue Harvest" is a sort of cosmic, drifting, eerie yet intriguing instrumental which I liked as well. Definitely a winner in my eyes. Great, original metal well worth hearing says me." – Brutalized #6, U.S.A.
* "ARES KINGDOM is another of the splinter bands that arose from the ashes of ORDER FROM CHAOS. Featuring Chuck Keller, and Mike Miller, it is obviously two thirds of the infamous trio. Offering just three tracks, it is definitely a great release, and unlike most demos of today, one that will be listened well into the future. Interesting riffing, with innovative use of repetition. The vocals are typical of those heard in VULPECULA, as well as OFC, and in saying that, they sound little like every other band. Music built around guitar riffs, catchy structures, and some untypical melodies. Best track is indeed the first, "Solis Lacus (Ares Kingdom)." Highly recommended." – Heresy Magazine #6, Australia
* "By now each of you should be aware of the importance of ORDER FROM CHAOS. Yeah, the band that was carrying the torch of the old ways before it was trendy. Well, ARES KINGDOM features Chuck (former O.F.C., current VULPECULA mainman) Keller and former O.F.C. drummer Mike Miller, and like their former band, ARES KINGDOM do it honest and trendless. The three tracks here are solid and crushing and all have enough of what it takes to get the feeling across. My favorite would have to be the instrumental "Blue Harvest," it just sums up this release listen after listen. Pro release, pro copied and the sound is godly, you'd be a fucking fool to pass this up." – Midwest Metal #20, U.S.A.
* "Here we have a rather unexpected demo from the members of VULPECULA (whose full-length we are greatly anticipating!) In the form of ARES KINGDOM. The material on this three-song demo bears slight resemblance to VULPECULA, although this band has its own equally unique identity. The vibe herin is that of a cosmic/futuristic one, going about its slow and midpacedness in a dreamy manner yet holding a firm grip over the listener. This is quite stunning and certainly unprecedented in a field of mediocrity. Unlike anything done so far in this ever-crowded underground. Very impressive, intelligent and captivating with elements coming from traditional metal, death, black and beyond, all the while outdoing them all to achieve a truly original result. So now we eagerly await further material from this entity. If these descriptions have caught your eye/ear definitely get in touch right away. This is the future." –Intellektual Spew #5, U.S.A.
* "This definitely stands on its own feet, feet based on Thrash metal...ugly and raw as we know it. At least we who were present in the metal scene in the 80's. But hey, this is not like the retro Thrash metal we have learned to know through bands like Aura Noir and Gehenna. ARES KINGDOM represents to me something with an own identity, not just a retro band. And this identity gives me hope for Thrash metal. And yes, the older fans of Thrash metal will undoubtedly go for this...but what about the younger ones? (4 out of 5)" – Imhotep #4, Norway
* "Chuck Keller and Mike Miller (now in VULPECULA, ex Order From Chaos), leave for a few moments the morbid Space sounds created in their band, to express their exalted Death Metal. In some episodes we can listen to Swedish influences above in all in the second song, "The Undying Fire." I like a lot this tape for its precise riffing, ‘cause its not the classic USA Death Metal we used to listen to in the last times. It's a great demo and the guitar solo in "Solis Lacus (Ares Kingdom) " is very good and the old Thrash elements which go out are the extreme infernal touch of the God of War to a band who already is very close to me. Don't loose the possibility to cross make a journey through the realms of the undying fire. (++++ ½ of 5)." – Vampiria, Italy
* "Chuck Keller and Mike Miller haven't been sitting on the asses since Order From Chaos broke up. They've founded the mighty ARES KINGDOM, an ‘80s influenced band that doesn't sound ‘80s. Yes, that's right. ARES KINGDOM might use influences from the old German scene to create their brand of black thrash metal, but they do not descend to the depths of merely imitating those who came before. My big complaint is that there's only three songs on this demo. Let's hear more! (***** of 5; ‘What? You're not signed yet?)" – Metal Nightmare #2, USA
* "The co-operation between the legendary Order From Chaos members Chuck Keller and Mike Miller have been resumed in Ares Kingdom. They call their music "infernal thrashing death" and claim that the lyrics are in the traditional Order From Chaos - style. This is all true and its very good. You should definitely keep your eye on ARES KINGDOM. I know I will. (4 of 5)" -- Nekrologium, Norway