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Alastor – The Unholy Hordes

The Unholy Hordes
by Justin Joseph at 23 August 2021, 9:56 PM

The Portuguese Black/Thrash Metal outfit, ALASTOR release their 7th full length album, “The Unholy Hordes” on Firecum Records. If you are not familiar with ALASTOR they were assembled in 1988, but it was until 1998 they begin generating content with their first split, “A Sacrifice to Darkness”. The sound of ALASTOR harkens back to the first wave of Black Metal, or Proto-Black Metal with the conjunction of early Thrash elements infused into the mixture, with that aspect the record feels like a release you may have missed out on in the eighties. So how is the album? Let’s find out!

When one thinks of Black Metal and Thrash Metal conjoined together the sounds that engulf one’s senses are primitive riffs with the eccentric tempo and energy radiating from that of Thrash Metal and that’s one of the high points displayed by “The Unholy Hordes”. Tracks such as “Ascenção da Besta” and “Deuses Antigos” are just a few examples of how the drums and guitars work in a synergetic combo to conjure that frantic and chaotic projection, which is elevated by the varied gallop-style playing and fast tempo picking accompanied by the thunderous, raw drum tones. To enhance the pandemonium of the noise fostered here there are sporadic solos that are interjected within the song structures that are placed throughout the tracks that adds a flavor of unpredictability to the primal spirit of the instrumentation, listen to the solo on “Ritos de Invocação” which emphasizes the described mood. Overall the guitars are mixed rather well as the tone emanating from the strings exudes a sharp, metallic ring towards it that cuts through the crafted atmosphere, so too does the drums with its medieval sounding that is echoed from every beat, like a full on assault, listen to “Que Se Abram os Portais” in which the drumming wraps itself with the guitar chords forming a synchronization that works off of each other. Musically even though the sound is cocooned within the spirit of early Black and Thrash Metal there are clear signs of influences from bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in terms of the riffing employed which seems to be taken from the book of JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN.

The lungs that radiate through this album brings forth a falsetto style approach mixed with a slightly operatic take in which the vocals are delivered, the vocals are more on the higher register akin to early Thrash bands. However, this is where my nit-pick begins …… now, make no mistake the vocalist CAN sing, he’s quite good I may add, as he expels a boisterous tone in every breathe that spins a mighty atmosphere, however while talented, the vocals and instruments feel like pieces of a jigsaw that keep clashing, in which they don’t shape to each other’s pieces. While the rhythm side of the album displays a berserk style of playing that plays well into the atmosphere of the songs, the vocals do not add towards the intensity nor does it accentuate any points within the song structure. It’s not because the vocals compared to the aura of the instruments may seem less intense, as they are countless bands that employ this thematic contrast approach and it is executed well, however here it feels like 2 separate elements that co-exist within the same space but there is no tissue, no tendons to bring them together. The track “Massacre Profano” contains an exaggerated intro where the vocalist yells “yeaaaaaaaaaaah” a tad bit too much, and that may work for others, however in comparison to the vibe of the instruments it came across slightly ‘corny’, and this attribute of the vocal hooks are sprinkled throughout “The Unholy Hordes” that hinders the overall quality.

In ending with this review, it may seem I am knocking on the band, but I am not, there is much potential here ….as an instrumental album, it’s a freaking riff machine that’s unstoppable. The standalone vocals, minus the instruments, again, there is talent in the hooks and high notes, but whereas when these two elements should strengthen one another when combined into one mixture I fear instead it’s diluted. If you enjoy the album, GREAT! Support the band, buy the album, as to ALASTOR even though this release may not have been my cup of tea, I still won’t mind giving your future release a chance…cheers!

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Intro: Dagon
2. Massacre Profano
3. Morte da Trindade
4. Ritos de Invocação
5. Forças do Inferno
6. Ascenção da Besta
7. Que Se Abram os Portais
8. Com Mil Demónios
9. Deuses Antigos
10. Morte
11. Palavras Finais
Record Label: Firecum Records


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