Released: 2014, Unique Leader Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Whoever does the scouting/A&R for Unique Leader sure has a good ear for underground talent. In recent months, the label has unleashed such awesome tech death finds as Sweden's Soreption and California's The Kennedy Veil. And they follow that up in short order with another batch of corrosive Californians, Sacramento's Alterbeast (not to mention Switzerland's Near Death Condition, whose new album is on the horizon as well.)
On first blush, Alterbeast recall an amped up The Black Dahlia Murder – an obvious comparison given Cam Rogers growl-and-shriek vocals and the band's knack for clever melodies and catchy hooks sure to lure you in, even if the grim lyrical sentiments of “Fleshbound Text” or “Throne of Maggots” lack Dahlia's “Statutory Ape” cheek. But these guys step up the technical dazzle and bludgeon a notch or 10 on their debut, Immortal, with drummer Gabe Seebers' stampeding beats and furious fills and Rusty Cornell and Andrew Lamb blistering, fleet-fingered guitaring making for one frenetic half-hour.
Still, there is a conscious, careful balance of flash, fire and finesse here that one might expect from a more veteran band. Alterbeast are able to blend their obvious chops and exuberance with solid and engaging songs. “Of Decimus Divine” and “Into Oblivion,” for instance, might offer a wild, dizzying ride, but you'll probably want to go again when it's done.
Indeed, Immortal is almost too short for its own good. The eight tracks fly right by and when the band really sound like they've gotten into a good groove, the album's over. Leave 'em wanting more is usually a pretty good strategy, but there's something to be said for consuming mass quantities as well, and another couple songs might have done the trick in that regard here.