(Review by Patrick De Sloover)

When you release a blistering debut album, the expectations of the fans are huge when it comes to a successor. Always Fallen from Belgium delivered a real masterpiece, called ‘Reflection’, in 2009 and the reactions of press and fans were eminent! Now, we have to focus on their second album ‘The Age Of Rivalry’, again released by metal pioneers Mausoleum Records, and let me reassure immediately, they hit the nail on the head!  While the debut album was produced by Xavier Carion (ex-Channel Zero), they worked with Attie Bauw (Judas Priest, Scorpions, The Gathering and even Latoya Jackson) for the mastering. The result was loud….very loud, just like expected! This time, bass player Pieter Nyckees was responsible for the recording, producing and mixing of the album, while Tue Madsen (Behemoth, At The Gates, Mnemic, The Haunted, Moonspell) took care of the mastering at his Antfarm Studios. It seems like this formula is the perfect move for a band like Always Fallen. They had plenty of time to work on the songs and recordings and the overall sound is top notch! 

I am really glad that the band evolved since their first output, and especially the vocals of Kenny Devos are amazing! His voice fits like a glove to the music of the band, it seems like they rehearsed a lot, fine-tuned all details to create 12 timeless metal monsters! The way the lyrics are melted in the arrangements, demonstrate the talent of this young band! The musical escapees are phenomenal while the chorus lines are recognizable after a very first listen, what indicates that the song structure is slapping and argumentative! From opener ‘You Carved My Name’, to closing track ‘Through The Struggle’, we hear a band that is on the move and ready for some serious action! Their first single release/video clip of the track ‘A Life In Solitude’ demonstrate what this band is all about. Check it out at this location:

The music of Always Fallen is mostly described as Thrash metal, but I don’t fully agree, as there is so much more to discover. Some songs have a Hardcore preponderance, while other songs made me think on Rage Against The Machine. Example? Listen to the track ‘Anunnaki’ where you will hear Kenny abet ‘This Place Is Not For Free’, which reminds me to ‘Killing In The Name  Of’. Another enticing part is ‘Kill The Rich’ in the song ‘Crucifixion Of The Poor’, and that’s how this album goes on and on. From highlight to highlight, from gem to gem! 

Always Fallen succeeded in creating songs that are ready for the next decades. They have enough power and heaviness, provided with a little hardcore influence, and last but not least, a big dose of thrash influences.  Don’t expect Destruction or Kreator lookalikes, but I rather prefer to describe them as the thrash version of Trivium. Outstanding chorus lines, with pounding bass and some screaming guitars, brought from their heart.  The quintet can be proud on what they achieved, as it’s one of the best Belgian releases in years! Always Fallen is ready to ‘Stand Up and Conquer’ and put Belgium on the metal map again! 

My rating:  90 / 100