A bit of background here as this Swedish grindcore act has been around for about five years and has released two EPs during that time but also the band is comprised of three ex-members of Coldworker, Oskar Pålsson (bass), Joel Fornbrant (vocals) and Anders Jakobson (drums) the latter of whom was also in Nasum and lastly Kristofer Jankarls (guitar) from Infanticide which should give you some indication as to the pedigree within the ranks of this outfit. The two EPs are incendiary as you’d expect and hot on their heels of those is this full length that is likely to be a contender for grindcore album of the year; well for me at least.
Like any genre grindcore has had its core principles musically altered and blurred over the years with a myriad of subgenre tags being added but Axis Of Despair are unadulterated grind and the moment the opener “Värdelös” starts with its feedback and distorted guitar initiation the sonic obliteration is one of outright decimation. Every track on the album releases megatons of energy via an explosion of blasting drum cannonades held together by viperous venomous vocal assaults that possess such animosity as to be terrifying. I absolutely love the drum sound on this album, as “Demons And Angels” continues the onslaught as that drum sound is unerringly bludgeoning but allowed to have cohesion and focus as the riff and cymbal smash break creates potent momentum that flows like boiling acid into “Pawn Sacrifice” and equally into “The Wolven Law” with its remorseless blast beats.
There are so many riffs hurled at the listener on the album that it feels like you’re at the centre of a riffing tornado with songs like “The Punishment Begins” being absolutely battering and I really mean that, the song tears you limb from limb which isn’t to say the album doesn’t let up occasionally as it does if only briefly as on “Crush The Empire” which initially barrages but dampens the speed by transitioning into a darker phase that is brooding and intimidating and makes the following tune “Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike” sound like an artillery bombardment with fantastic riff and very like Terrorizer. “Streams Of Sludge” is not slow as the title might indicate, instead the track detonates from the start and as the song blazes uncontrollably it lets loose an awesome bass riff at the end that I wished would have continued a little longer.
54 seconds “The Pain Maze” is immense, it pummels you to a pulp at first before switching to a groove infested riff that makes the frenzied “Vile Behaviour” demented as by now I am sure you have the picture of what this album is like by Sweden’s Axis Of Despair. Those that crave the true sound and scorching inferno of grindcore can look no further as this album lives and breathes the genre in every single millisecond of its duration.
(9.5/10 Martin Harris)