Death SS - Rock ‘n’ Roll Armageddon

Death SS Rock ‘n’ Roll Armageddon cover
Death SS
Rock ‘n’ Roll Armageddon
Lucifer Rising Records
Death SS deserve of recognition simply due to the fact that in the face of adversity their output extends over some five decades (they started way back in 1977), even if during recent times they’ve been largely laying dormant, with the occasional legacy release, popping up from time to time and post millennial albums occurring every four to five years that extended to some seven between the “7th Seal” and “Resurrection”.
It’s no lie that starting with “Do What Thou Wilt” and moving forward, the band has incorporated more and more “modern” and for the doom era purists, “foreign” influences mostly industrial, in nature. I do tend to like certain aspects and songs of the era, more than others, believing that they have elevated the band to a state that their previous incarnations could only fantasize about, but on the other hand, this wasn’t done without estranging some fans along the way. What I recognize however is that the band has hardly changed its aesthetics – one could probably say they have toned down their imagery a bit. It’s just that the whole thing they have been doing, the whole occult rock, has been popularized again mainly due to the rise of bands like Ghost and to a lesser extend the Devil’s Blood and so on.
I did find “Resurrection” to my liking, but to me the band “peaked” this more-contemporary style early on and has not managed to quite duplicate the aura around their seminal “Panic” release and the releases that precede and follow it respectively. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Armageddon” mixing typical Death SS fare, a bit of the industrial edge and straight ahead heavy metal, manages to sound a tiny bit more excitable to my ears, despite the passage of some five years since it predecessor. The entire thing plays as some nasty horror – play, a slasher flick, a dodgy porno, all in one. It’s all you expected from the band and maybe some you didn’t but enjoyable none the less…
“Black Soul” drags its heavy chains, midst chants and painful harrowing howl that Steve Sylvester curses out in his usual paratonal grind. The celestial guitars that disrupt it, make it ethereal for a moment, before the sulfur, returns.
The title track, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Armageddon”, is heralded by the sound of sirens and a sinister riff, with a persistence and a twisted 80s aesthetic, that its leads reinforce. Heck, while listening to this, I was thinking that it doesn’t sound too dissimilar to say something of “Heavy Demons” but unapologetic ally more catchy and “commercial” so to speak.
“Hellish Knights” is likewise quite enjoyable, but imagine if Hell was in a club (no pun and not the band) … it would be a club edition of a Death SS song. But damn catchy it is.
“Slaughterhouse” is not a song that vegans will appreciate as it’s animals under distress sample, quickly morphs into a heavy riff that procedurally disintegrates into a nightmarish “techno-thrash” mosher… with a ripping solo thrown in for good measure. A guilty pleasure. Yes, I will admit so.
“Creature of the Night” is well thought gothic pop with an edge. Not bad at all.
“Madness of Love” begins in a way that made me think of new wave but as soon as the industrial rhythmic backbone activates, it just turns into some perverse dark-wave hybrid with a rather high pitched, chorus that’s pretty extravagant. Quite likable too as it manages to also stuff some nice guitar histrionics in there.
“Promised Land” is “Rob Manson” SS, but maybe with a splash of KISS aesthetics.
“Zombie Massacre 2018” a B-side from “Eaters” is offered remixed and is a very rhythmical and heavy – aggressive number that transitions well enough.
“The Fourth Reich” is another industrial flavored tune, that rips a bit of Dragula and could easily be branded as controversial.
Thankfully “Witch’s Dance 2018” tones the heavy industrial tone down a bit – without eliminating it – but definitely rocks more. The remix has a more hollow sound than the EP version. But it remains equally as engaging and a great track. I guess, it sounds as Rammstein would if they were not as boring.
“Your Life is Now”, has “harmonica”?! Think of Death SS, gone spaghetti. The pop lightness of “Sinful Dove” with dueting female vocals produces a thoroughly interesting result that’s actually entrancing.
“The Glory of the Hawk” a “Dionysus” B’side, presented as live – is presented here in a moriconne inspired version complete with whistling and carbonara…
Last but not least and going back to original material, “Forever” begins with an impressive blast of guitar, before Sylvester launches into a delirious lyrical attack that’s followed by some symphonic ornamentation in the midst of the maelstrom. Nice.
Overall, a marked improvement over “Resurrection” and mostly worth to bear the Death SS mantle, proudly.