Reviewed: July 2022
Released: 2022, Bitter Loss Records
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Malignant Altar, from Australia, are a death/doom metal quintet. Abysmal Misfortune Is Draped Upon Me is their first release under this new moniker, as they were formally known as Cursed As A Hag from 2017 to 2018.
The opening track shares its name with the band, and rightly so as it sets the tone for the rest of the album. The most “Malignant” quality it bears would have to be the visceral vocals, while the resonating guitar sound that rings out under the unclean lyrics shine like an audible “Aura”.
Energetic number “In a Timeless Place Beneath the Earth” is the shortest, despite clocking in at 7 minutes and 44 seconds. With a rhythm section to be reckoned with, it more than makes up for this by containing dramatic twists and turns, resulting in just the right mix of death and doom metal elements.
At almost 12 minutes in length, longest song “There Is Blackness in the Water” demands the most attention. This also allows for it to switch from slow traditionally doom parts to faster death metal moments more often than the other five, without the melodies being too brief or the changes sounding random.
Title track “Abysmal Misfortune Is Draped upon Me” contains an extremely catchy riff that permeates throughout much of its eight-minute run time. Both the drums and guitars provide a sense of ominousness that builds even after the fourth chapter reaches its most dramatic point.
“A Soliloquy Beneath the Sepulchre” has the task of following up its predecessor, which is not an easy one. Being a couple of minutes longer and less eventful, the album’s level excitement wanes here. The scales between death and doom also tilts mostly to the latter in terms of instrumentation and speed.
A healthy balance of death and doom, “…And so It Was That I Lay Down Forever” contains many of the highlights showcased previously. The spoken word verses add a strong sense of narrative, with the final lines “With bitter accompaniment, I embraced the grave and thus my world was resolved” providing a very fitting final set of words for the album closer.
Fans of fellow Australian death-doom acts Inverloch and The Nilhiilstic Front should give Malignant Aura’s debut a listen.