Artist: Altars (Aus)
Album Title: Altars
This is the first demo from Altars, an Australian band playing death metal.
The production on this record is quite thick and heavy, with a chunky, distorted guitar sound and deep, belched vocals. The drums and bass are mostly buried underneath them in the mix, but harsh screams and sharp-edged, squealing guitar parts break the surface frequently.
The songwriting here is quite progressive. Each song has multiple riff patterns, broken by start-and-stop sections and abrupt tempo changes. That said, the songs are also quite catchy, with plenty of memorable vocal sections and some nimble and inspiring lead work. I especially like the way this band uses vocal timing as a counterpoint to the guitar, as in the early part of "Obstinance of Being". Most of the songs here are rather brief, but "Fallen Beneath Seleucid Temples" proves that they can handle epics as well as shorter songs. Clocking in at exactly nine minutes, it alternates between thick mid-paced riffing and quicker, pinch-harmonic-laden sections before fading into an echoing ambient outro. Good stuff! Overall, this record reminds me of a low-end-heavy and slightly more experimental approach to early Morbid Angel -- let's just say that the altars in question probably have a lot to do with madness!
All in all, this is a great demo. Each song is heavy, distinctive, and packed with energy and dynamism. About all I could wish for is a longer running time, and I'm sure this band will deliver when their first full-length record is released. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Obstinance of Being", "Fallen Beneath Seleucid Temples"