|Altars Of Grief
|Hypnotic Dirge Records
|Crypt Of Fear
The first time I listened to Altars Of Grief occurred a few years ago, during the split with Nachtterror; it was a brief taste of their potential only, yet it was already convincing. The “Iris" release finally allows us to get to know better the Canadian band.
I'm not going to beat around the bush, this album is a bomb. I realized it immediately and the fact that after two weeks of listening it did not lose its expressive power in any way is the definitive proof. The easy comparison with Woods Of Ypres should not seem to indicate a lack of personality; on the contrary, the band's Prairie Doom manages to shine with its own light, while not rejecting the foundations provided by David Gold and his associates.
The atmosphere of "Iris" is generally gloomy, almost Gothic — in the less showy meaning of the term — judging by the carpet of keyboards in the background, by the enchanting acoustic moments and by the cello enriching different passages; also the artwork with almost no colors seems to confirm this trend. Some more airy phases, however — sometimes timidly winking at the Post- world — seem to leave a glimpse in the distance, albeit so distant as to be almost unreachable.
Anguish and despair take many forms, sometimes in the throes of a blinding fury, others afflicted by the total absence of the most faint hope; this manifests itself through a wide range of tempos ranging from black metal blast beats to pachydermal slowdowns to the limit of Funeral Doom, also including dynamics close to Doom-Death. The remarkable rhythmic variety is reflected in the same way on the guitars, writing riffs with every possible nuance of suffering.
The most obvious element reminding us of Woods Of Ypres is the voice, in particular the clean one that often presents itself in the less heavy moments with melancholic harmonies. The union and the alternation of this style with a tormented scream-growl is one of the most representative factors of the album, being the most effective means of expressing the negativity of the lyrics in all its variants.
It is difficult to find weaknesses in a similar work; however, it is possible to find a qualitative climax — on a purely personal level — in the titletrack: a real tear-jerker song, able to contain the essence of the album in six minutes and transmit it at full capacity. The reality of the facts, to all intents and purposes, is that there are not really moments that are lackluster and the scarce time of music flows pleasantly and effortlessly, so much so as to induce immediate re-listening. Excellent work, Altars Of Grief!