Released: 2006, Nuclear War Now! Productions
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
"All the finest wine ripens in due time...". I think the same thing could sincerely be said about the debut full-length album of this 4-some under Ares Kingdom´s moniker, hailing from Kansas City. RETURN TO DUST, the 8-track offering from these relentless old-school blackened thrashers Ares Kingdom, has been built up carefully over the months, without any rush. The band´s debut album has been thought over even that carefully that the album title was changed from the original title A DREAM OF ARMAGEDDON to RETURN TO DUST eventually. But some albums are worth waiting for - and Ares Kingdom´s debut full-length is no expection!
So, what are the album´s songs like then, you may curiously ask? Well, if you have ever heard of bands like Order From Chaos, Desaster, early Destroyer 666, Possessed and the likes, then Ares Kingdom is definitely for you; an underground metal band made by true underground metal fans, for true underground metal fans. Of course people automatically tend to link Ares Kingdom to the already disbanded Kansas City -chaosmongers Order From Chaos simply because the band features 2 ex-O.F.C. -members; Chuck Keller on guitar and Mike Miller on drums. Sure, some sort of musical connection is still there - no doubts, but as Order From Chaos were known for their somewhat relatively chaotic musical outbursts, Ares Kingdom relys more on mid-tempo and slow passages that have been spiced well-crafted riff - and rhythm tempo changes that really crap a listener´s attention easily and effortlessly. A special mention must be given about Chuck´s catchy, wild and slightly distorted guitar-work both riff- and rhythm-wise. He may not be the most technical Thrash guitarist that are out there these days, but he surely has got sharp ears for conjuring up some spine-shattering riffs and stuff out of his 6-stringer. Chuck is the man, definitely!
There´s 8 songs on RETURN TO DUST, and lifting up - let´s say, like 2-4 best ones out of them, would be completely unnesessary and pointless because each song has earned its place on this record. You are able to hear from everything the band has bled lots of sweat and blood into their song structures in order to make them sound convincing and powerful enough - and they have succeeded very well in all that, too. Ares Kingdom´s sound reeks of an old-school blackened underground Thrash Metal; so much that a listener is easily able to hear right away it´s not a question of any retro-thing with Ares Kingdom at all - and there´s much more involved with them than just riding of the wings of ´old-school-or-no-school´ -theme that seems to be a big trendy thing amongst today´s kids. Ares Kingdom sounds sophistically raw, pleasantly malicious and filthy enough - and what´s most important thing with them, they do sound unique and original and haven´t ever stepped aside from a musically uncompromising path they chose since the band was put together in late 1996. The three words, "blackened Thrash Metal", have become more meaningful and more concrete now when Ares Kingdom have put their own stamp all over them.
If you like darkness with red teeth, then RETURN TO DUST has absolutely been made for you.