Released: 2013, Nuclear Winter Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Altars are an Australian trio who specialize in playing Death Metal inspired by bands like Incantation and Miasma, who injected their sound with Doom Metal passages that then shift towards faster Grindcore sections. PARAMNESIA; their first full length record, showcases these tendencies with a thunderous production job, and those who fear that the band may have sacrificed some of the heaviness in their earlier split records can now rest easy, and are in for a big surprise. Some songs are re-recordings of older tracks which are integrated into the album's loose concept.
Like Incantation, song lengths vary, from long 10 minute tracks to shorter songs that barely reach the two minute mark, and the record has a dark, foreboding atmosphere. "Mare" kicks things off full speed, with blasting drums, tremolo picking and guttural vocals. It's as if the listener is pulled inside this dark cave full of unseen creatures who suddenly charge at them. The tempo then slows down, making way for spacey dissonant guitar riffs. The band also infuses their music with a lot a of technical sections where drums and guitars stop and start again, or the bass is briefly left on its own as a way to transition into other parts of the songs. Even the shorter songs like " Terse" and "Husk", have a lot of tempo changes in them. "Husk" and "Solar Barge" actually have a kind of Black Metal flavor to their guitar riffs. The Doom Metal inspired riffs are more evident in the longer songs, though the band never really slow down too much: these sections include a lot of double kick drum work characteristic of Death Metal. "Ouroboros (Paramnesia, part III)" the track that closes the record, at one point reaches a stop where feedback is only heard, then the band come back in, full force with those slow double kick drum beats. Vocals remain mostly guttural throughout the record, and are also one of the elements that seem inspired by Incantation.
PARAMNESIA is a well-crafted Death Metal record that may appeal to fans of technical Death Metal bands that like to take a plunge now and again into more atmospheric territory. The record shows that Altars are a force to be reckoned with in today's Death Metal realm. Some of the more ambient elements used in this record could be explored further by the band in future releases, since they work very well when used here, and give the band a more identifiable sound. As it is, though the album's 8 tracks work better when heard as a whole and listeners may find the dark atmosphere of the record intoxicating.
Review by Titus Isaac López