Company: Heavy Artillery Records
Reviewer: Hail and Kill
Bursting with violent tunes and primitive musicianship
The saying "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" holds true for this grizzled trio from the East Coast. Playing no frills bare knuckle thrash that runs at a killer pace, At War have lain dormant for the better part of the last 19 years till Heavy Artillery Records gave their almost extinct music a lifeline. The ensuing comeback has produced a gnarly album titled "Infidel" that takes dead aim at Islamic extremists threatening the freedom of the civilized world. It's a wholesome theme for a record bursting with violent tunes and primitive musicianship, for At War belong to a species of old school reared on the NWOBHM—and it's gloriously heard throughout the nine songs here.
Beginning the infernal ride is the excellent opener "Assassins" where Paul Arnold vividly describes a night's work for a Spec Ops operator. It's also on this first song where At War's strengths come to our attention--the trio have a flare for memorable choruses amid tight compositions that eschew the fancy shit. So, expect matters to remain straight forward on the ensuing tracks with nary any effeminate embellishment, be it contemplative guitar noodles or (ach!) keyboards. With all due respect, worshipers at the altar of Savatage; At War certainly aren't. In their case, think early Slayer, Venom, and the fuzzier moments of Metallica's debut. The downright best cuts here are the self-named "At War," "Deceit," and "Semper Fi" where the United States Marines are given a well-deserved salute for being such a kick ass fighting Corps. But it isn't only the American soldier who's glorified on this record, as England's RAF have their, urm, "RAF" which portrays the Queen's airmen as masters of war in the air. Yet less glorious tracks also enjoy their time of day such as the sick "Rapechase" and an ode to every America-hating Islamic extremist, "Want You Dead."
For those who'd like to sink their teeth on Sodom-esque nihilism and punk tinged Heavy Metal, At War are a breath of rancid air blasting out your speakers. These old wardogs have fought in the trenches and become masters of their deadly trade. It's the trio's hard earned experience that keeps this retrogressive "Infidel" at the cutting edge, ready to slice someone's neck and splatter blood everywhere. Gnarly indeed.