Review - Archangel A.D. "Casus Belli"
Is there anything more pure than the sound of some classic heavy metal? The origins of thrash, speed, and pretty much everything else that metal fans love. Well that’s exactly what Archangel A.D. are aiming for with the new album Casus Belli. Using the pandemic to their advantage, recording for the new album started in January and now, with the world starting to reopen in places, it was time for Archangel A.D. to unleash what has been created.
From the opening notes of “Bet On Death” and the title track “Casus Belli,” it becomes pretty obvious the tone that Archangel A.D. are aiming for. “Bet On Death” is high energy, thrash/speed inspired, while “Casus Belli” is more of a classic galloping doom laden song. Not to say it’s slow by any means, but by contrast, this one is significantly slower than where we started. This continues into the band’s single “Beacons” before we start to pick up again in “Celestation.” If you're looking for fast, hard, and heavy, this is where to start, practically comes off as an early Bonded By Blood-era Exodus track.
One thing with Casus Belli is the bouncing around it does in the song lengths. The first half of the album is significantly shorter than the second, with the longest song in the first half being “Celestation” at barely over 5 minutes. The second half of the album on the other hand has two, 7 minute songs, and an 11 minute track. It’s not to say that “Demonolith” or “The Coming Of the West Wind” are bad by any means, but it does create a sort of drag going into the second half of the album. Squished in all this as well, is easily one of the best, and shortest, songs on the album. “Blasphemer” is a song that is high tempo, thrashy, and gets straight to the point. This is a song that appreciates the listener’s time.
To cement the issue of the second half, going from what may be the fastest track on the album, to the slowest with “Door To The Moon” may not have been the best plan. The power ballad sits a couple seconds short of 7 minutes, and feels incredibly out of place on the album. A cover of KISS’s “Beth” may have even been a better fit. This then leads into the 11 minute epic “The Coming Of the West Wind,” a mid tempo, pure aggression track that honestly, kicks ass. It’s really the change gear needed to wake up the listener from the last track, but it does feature a fair bit of fluff. It’s really hard to justify a song that comes above 10 minutes, so if you’re going to include one it has to work the whole way through, and unfortunately this one does miss the mark by a bit. Give fans an abridged version of this one and it’ll likely be a favourite, as it stands, it's hard to even get this far in the album with the difference in pace from the first half to the second.
Outside of a bit of a pacing issue through the album, Casus Belli is a great listen. A couple small parts hit the mark, if the second half wasn’t nearly 10 minutes longer than the first half this may have worked out nicer as a whole. At the end of the day though, anyone who’s a fan of the classic heavy metal/thrash sound like early Exodus will be right in their glory going into Casus Belli.