It is only a few months short of a decade since we at The RR first found ears and appetite gripped by Australian metallers Age Of Menace and a self-titled EP which eagerly ensured both and anticipation eagerly surrounded subsequent encounters. Since the release of the excellent Venom EP four years back the Sydney outfit has been quiet with a change in line-up reducing them to a trio but now they return with a new offering and a collection of tracks which has taken the familiar adventure in their sound to a whole new level.
Age Of Menace has always nurtured their aggressive roar from a mix of rock and metal but the War Machine EP is the band entangling the richest variety of flavours and imagination to that prowess yet with the result being by some way their finest offering to date. Throughout their previous releases there have been majorly memorable moments and unshakeable favourite encounters, without any real exception every single song stirring hard attention upon them, but War Machine is their most rounded, complete and gripping proposition not forgetting adventurous proposition yet. Each of its six tracks unleashes individual character and predacious imagination like nothing from them before yet all still stand all as recognisable and inescapable Age Of Menace incitement.
War Machine opens up with its title track, verbal incitement soon surrounded by a wall of muscular intensity and trespass. Once hitting its senses devouring stride, the track is familiar Age Of Menace provocation with the guitar of Pete Ross sonic turbulence as vocalist Rob Smith roars with antagonism and physical assertiveness. That tempest calms a touch as the bass of Adam Barns shapes a growing web of fresh temptation and virulence within a union of extreme and nu metal. As suggested the track revels in the established AOM sound yet there is a tinge of the adventure and unpredictability which will soon erupt across the EP as the opener gets the record off to a rousing start.
The following Leader The Lie lays a gentle melodic hand on ears first though rhythms have no hesitancy in providing imposing if inviting bait within that invitation. Smith’s tones are just as initially reserved but also carry an edge to their enticingly schizophrenic breath. Second by second, twist by twist the song reveals and revels in unpredictable imagination, the craft of the trio as commanding as the sounds they unleash with increasing psychosis. The song is superb, a tapestry of grooved and melodic metal and heavy rock ‘n’ roll as thick in flavouring as it is rich in voracious enterprise.
I Can See My Heart Stop is just as strikingly dynamic and bold but with an even richer vein of esurient catchiness which easily burrowed under the skin. Progressive hues collude with more avant-garde metal textures within enterprise akin to a fusion of Fear Factory and Machine Head, though as everywhere the track bears a landscape so much more entwined in diverse slightly atypical styles and flavours. Smith’s vocals equally share harmonious temptation with aberrant invention, their potent irregularity as rousing as the ever earthy exploits of Barns’ bass and the creative theatre of Ross’ guitar.
There is also a definite essence of Five Star Prison Cell in the character and unstable landscape of the song as indeed the ever expanding body of the EP, next up Don’t Need You Anymore just as eager to share a capricious adventure in sound and emotive intensity. Like the turmoil seizing the world right now, the EP is a cauldron of invasive virulence just one eagerly welcomed as highlighted in this particular inventive pleasure of infectious flirtation and invasive turbulence soon echoed in its successor Back On My Feet. It too invades with rhythmic, sonic and vocal predation, its threat mercurial in attack but unerringly under the skin with increasing ease, grooves primarily hosting its intoxication. Again those fellow Aussies come to mind across the excellent incitement as too echoes of bands such as Five Finger Death Punch and Mudvayne but all spices to another distinct Age Of Menace triumph.
Though favourite track has proven hard to finalise, Comin To Get You constantly leaves it’s imposing claim as it brings War Machine to a thrilling close. The track emerges from the distance to instantly stalk the senses, rhythms a march of predation as riffs and grooves harry ears around the unhinged tones of Smith. The track is chaotic manna, greedily devoured and repeatedly chewed upon just as the track with its feral antics pigs out on the listener’s primal fears.
As much as we have found true pleasure in previous Age Of Menace offerings and have been eager to bring them to the attention of others, it has been nothing like the lust and instinctive urge to shout out about War Machine now upon us or the addiction which draws relentlessly us back to the EP.
War Machine is out now through Extreme Music on iTunes, Spotify and @ https://music.apple.com/au/album/war-machine-ep/1533391251
Pete RingMaster 05/11/2020