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Cruel Force – Dawn of the Axe

cruel force – dawn of the axe


If you hadn’t heard about Cruel Force before, chances are you missed out. Between 2010 and 2011 the band released two rather stellar albums with ‘The Rise of Satanic Might’ and ‘Under the Sign of the Moon’. On these albums the band excavated the sound of the 80’s, mixing the likes of Bathory, Venom, Motörhead, Possessed, Sodom, Kreator, Possessed, Destruction and Celtic Frost into a lethal Blackened Thrashing Metal whirlwind. Featuring the wildly bellowing roars of vocalist Carnivore, the band set itself apart from bands with similar influences in their more Blackened approach. But then the band ceased to be. Dead & buried for 10 years, their old school corpse was rotting and festering until it was ultimately unearthed again in 2022. The sign of its return came in the shape of two singles, both which appeared as preludes of the band’s third record: ‘Dawn of the Axe’.

At the core, Cruel Force has continued working on their blend of Thrash Metal with a Black Metal edge and that still is the major component of their music. But while Heavy Metal certainly wasn’t a stranger to the sound of Cruel Force, ‘Dawn of the Axe’ probably takes us a little bit more often into the Heavy and Speed Metal direction than the two preceding albums. There’s a little bit more of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, the likes of Agent Steel as well as Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and early Exodus. Obviously, with a mix that strictly consists of stalwarts of the 80’s extreme Metal scene that were mentioned above, this fresh infusion is a seamless fit. Carnivore’s vocals also have a slightly less hoarse character, opting more for an approach that comes close to for instance Possessed’s Jeff Beccera, and at times even flirts with Agent Steel-like cackling (but without the falsettos).

Cruel Force are of course not the only band to combine these influences. But as with their peers in Deathhammer, Abigail, Desaster and Midnight, Cruel Force worships their roots slightly differently. While Deathhammer has always been a bit more tongue-in-cheek Thrash and Speed blend and Midnight opts for more Motörhead -inspired rock and groove, the sound on ‘Dawn of the Axe’ is still a bit more Blackened, wild and violent yet at the same time a bit further away from that Blackened Thrash of for instance Desaster. This all together further enforces their own little niche of 80’s worshipping extreme Metal.

With a persistent rough Black edge and forward-thrusting pace, furious tracks like ‘At the Dawn of the Axe’ and ‘Death Rides the Sky’ sound as if taken straight from the 80’s, not in the least because of the delightful analogue drum sound. The almost oriental touch in the midpaced sections of ‘Across the Styx’ song captures that essence of an ancient Egyptian trip towards the realm of the dead. And while on ‘Realm of Sands’ the band shows it’s not shy to add a heavy dose of Iron Maiden riffs, ‘Devil’s Dungeon’ blends it with their love for Thrash and Possessed. The ending of ‘Power Surge’ to me felt like an indirect homage to ‘Kill ‘Em All’, while the more melodious seven minute closer ‘Realm of Sands’ is as furious as it is epic. In other words, no filler, just killers, no trends, just pure 80’s worship. Cruel Force is back with ‘Dawn of the Axe’ and takes no prisoners.

Cruel Force

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