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Altar of Oblivion - The Seven Spirits

Altar of Oblivion
The Seven Spirits
by Chris Hawkins at 02 April 2019, 1:45 PM

2019 Has been quite the year for Metal surprises.  Ashamedly, I had no prior experience with ALTAR OF OBLIVION.  I honestly picked them out because they are on Shadow Kingdom Records, the label that is home to HAUNT, BEASTMAKER, and others.  Evidently, the Metal radar has paid off as this is quite the discovery – a hard-hitting, epic, original-sounding Traditional Doom band.  ALTAR OF OBLVION is from Denmark, formed in 2005, and “The Seven Spirits” is their third full-length.

Created in the Fires of Holiness” opens the album with a firm statement of intent.  Immediately, a switch is flipped inside my mind as I digest the monster guitar gone.  With some heavy rhythmic lines and a brief harmonic section, the song is then launched into the verse section in which the bass takes the lead while guitars support with huge chords.  It is striking at once how unique the vocals are though quite difficult to exactly categorize them.  Overall, there is a striking resemblance to classic Doom such as CANDLEMASS, SOLITUDE AETURNUS, and others.  These Danish musicians have certainly done their homework as this is pure, true, authentic, and monstrously impressive.  Evidently, I have some homework in the form of diving deep into their back catalog beginning with their 2007 demo, “The Shadow Era”.

The third track, “Gathering at the Wake,” begins with a stunningly powerful, low, low, low nasty riff!  It sounds like the offspring of Kirk Windstein and Tony Iommi – otherwise, divine!  After the vocals sing a verse, everything drops out except for the bass which launches into an interesting run showcasing its distorted, chorus-effected, giant troll-sized tone.  When the vocals return with the guitars, the music takes a catchy turn and it is easy to hear the broad appeal this band has for when they want to be heavy, they nail it, and when they want a more melodic affair, they manage to blend their multi-faceted approach smoothly thereby creating an all-around solid, original, and polished tone.

ALTAR OF OBLIVION is simply not another Doom clone.  They do fit neatly into the genre, but there are many qualities that are unique to them causing their sound to be rich and broad.  Instrumentally, the interplay between the stringed instruments causes not only the sound to be enlarged but also enables each instrument to have its moment in the spotlight.  The guitars know when to drop back with some large, hanging chords while the bass rages on and likewise, the low-end also knows when to sit back in the pocket locking with the active, punchy drums.  The addition of keyboards enriches the sound, though they are not overpowering.  They aid the music by expanding chords and harmonizing.  Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the band is the vocals.  The vocals are cleanly-sung and typically sit in the baritone range.  At times, one can hear a bit of Glenn Danzig, Messiah Marcolin, and also an 80s Goth feel.  While they are certainly unique, the vocals could not really be labelled as polarizing.

The final track is titled “Grand Gestures of Defiance”.  Beginning with a clean section, it is soon apparent that this will be epic.  As it rolls along, one can hear a sampling of all the band does well.  The furious double-picked section is highlighted by some intricate trills giving it a touch of class and deft musicianship.  One has to love the way the guitar solo sounds like a singer with its own original melody.  There aren’t a million-plus notes thrown at the listener, but rather an infectious melody that speaks to the soul.

ALTAR OF OBLVION has released an album that should be on everyone’s radar – and shopping list!  It is not often a band actually sounds original in this day and age.  This is especially true when the band is coming from a traditional angle.  ALTAR OF OBLIVION has crushing riffs, gargantuan rhythms, and a dark sound that will appeal to fans across the board.

 Songwriting:  8
Originality:  9
Memorability:  8
Production:  8



4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Created in the Fires of Holiness
2. No One Left
3. Gathering at the Wake
4. The Seven Spirits
5. Language of the Dead
6. Solemn Messiah
7. Grand Gesture of Defiance

Lineup:
C. Norgaard – Bass
Mik Mentor – Vocals
Martin Meyer Mendelssohn Sparvath – Guitars, Keyboards
Danny Woe – Drums
Jeppe Campradt – Guitars, Keyboards

Record Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
     


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