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Dawn of Azazel - "Relentless" (CD)

Dawn of Azazel - "Relentless" CD cover image

"Relentless" track listing:

1. The Art of Seduction - I - Engine of Virility (2:10)
2. The Art of Seduction - II - Ravishment (3:42)
3. Perseverance (3:59)
4. Majesty (5:59)
5. Overcome It All (6:31)
6. I Relentless (4:30)
7. Fornication Revelation (3:08)
8. Liquor And Lust (8:34)
9. Sinew, Sin, Discipline (5:05)
10. By My Hand (5:24)
11. The Flames of Failure (6:40)

Reviewed by on May 24, 2010

"'Relentless' is a metal album that contains longer arrangements and frequent time changes to reach a desired climax in order to accomplish a specific purpose; eating your skull."

Upon listening to the lyrics for Dawn of Azazel's "Relentless," it's obvious that Rigel Walshe was doing two things heavily during the writing process: drinking and fucking.

Granted, there are other lyrical themes. For instance, some are about achieving against impossible odds and others are about punching people in the face, but a good half of these songs are about having whiskey dick and beer goggles. While undoubtedly metal, the "tough guy" lyrics do get old after repeated listens, as they're infused with enough testosterone to make Kimbo Slice OD.

Uber-macho lyrics aside, Dawn of Azazel have created a much improved third album filled with memorable songs, excellent songwriting, catchy riffs and skull-fucking brutality. The previous drumming and timing issues are now rectified due to the presence of a new - and far more competent - drummer handling the percussion. This allows the band to sound tighter without sacrificing the time changes and unconventional approach to songwriting that characterized "Sedition."

Unfortunately, Rigel Walshe's distinctive voice is unchanged, which means that he still takes a while to get used to. Thankfully, his vocal performance fits the music, but he still sounds far different from most extreme metal vocalists, which could be good or bad depending on whether or not the listener feels that his distinctive scream fits within the context of death metal. He'll either sound like a metalcore vocalist choking on nails or a more refined version of John Tardy, which is entirely subject to individual taste.

Still, what makes "Relentless" worthwhile are the memorable riffs and sense of progression that the songs have. Dawn of Azazel seem to know exactly when their audience will assume that a song will become predictable and use that opportunity to break out a crushing monster riff that changes the entire direction of the song from that point onward. This isn't metal that chooses to meander aimlessly to get the progressive tag. "Relentless" is a metal album that contains longer arrangements and frequent time changes to reach a desired climax in order to accomplish a specific purpose; eating your skull.

Overall, "Relentless" is a good but flawed album that remains the best thing to come out of New Zealand metal scene. The final track "The Flames of Failure," is one of the most epic death metal anthems ever written and it's a shame that this band's popularity is mostly confined to Oceania. "Relentless" may not be perfect, but it should certainly bring Dawn of Azazel many new and deserved fans.

Highs: A huge improvement over everything that this band has done in the past, blackened death metal that is aggressive, progressive and catchy, top-tier riffwork

Lows: Misogynistic tough guy lyrics are laughably narmy. Rigel Walshe's voice is an acquired taste

Bottom line: A major improvement over "Sedition," it's not perfect by any means, but it's enough of a step in the right direction to make Dawn of Azazel the most important band to watch from New Zealand.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)