THE AWAKENING, Countdown to Misanthropy (2005, Twilight Vertrieb)

The skull:
A cartoony skull (making no allowances for dentition) in a busted-up cog, floating over a… puzzle of the badlands? In a loading zone? Who can say what’s supposed to be going on here, or how this cover could possible relate to the poorly conceived title. Are we to imagine the skull thinking, “All you humans out there? You’d better hold on to your asses because I’m gonna start hatin’ the shit out of ’em in a few minutes…” Adding to the confusion is the weirdly double-set title, no doubt the result of the band being unable to choose between the gritty modern font and the evil olde-tyme font. See also the logo and that symbol hiding behind the nondescript lettering: that’s a leftover of the A and G from their old logo, when The Awakening played pagan metal. These guys really just can’t make up their minds.

The music:
I was certain, looking at this cover, that the music it adorned would be Pantera/Machine Head style groove metal, but surprisingly, that’s not at all what The Awakening are about (now, at least. Maybe one of their other albums, though!) This is modern death metal, mid paced to quick, but rarely blasty. Sure, there are some thrash influences, but only as ornamentation. What you mostly get is Malevolent Creation / Monstrosity style DM, with a touch of the weirdness that informs a lot of German death metal, even the rotten stuff. This is not my preferred form of death metal, but some of this album really isn’t bad. I know I shouldn’t be saying nice things about a song called “Payment in Skin,” but it’s slithering riffs and barely-in-control drumming more or less work. Sure, the vocals are generic and the lyrics are dumb, but this can be said about even a lot of good death metal. That said, it appears that The Awakening broke up half a decade ago. Countdown averted, misanthropy delayed.
— Friar Johnsen