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Alterbeast - Feast Award winner

by James Peterson at 07 February 2018, 2:47 PM

You know when an album starts with a couple licks that remind you of a band you really like, in this case FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, with the piano and lead guitar arpeggios that kick off ALTERBEAST’s sophomore album “Feast,” that you’re in for a ride. Then we get into a barrage of modern tech death riffs that remind of ENFOLD DARKNESS or NECROPHAGIST which mirror and continue the vibe/musical feel of that opening piano chord progression. It’s a short but sweet song that really gets it’s point across. And that’s honestly what ALTERBEAST are good at. Insanely heavy tech death songs. Period. How can anyone listen to the last minute of “The Maggots Ascension” and not want to kick someone’s face in? This heaviness and consistency is why they put on my favorite performance at last year’s Louisville Deathfest, in a lineup filled with some of the absolute best technical death metal bands on earth right now.

I love “Black Flame Illumination” as well, even though it reminds me heavily of a band for whatever reason I’ve always had a hard time getting super into: THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER. It just has that really darkened modern melodeath vibe. At least until it changes pace into a really groovy and just… CHURNING riff in the middle of the song, putting you right back into ALTERBEAST's brand of diminished crushing death metal pulverization. The band really likes to use leads/riffs from what I’ve seen/heard that take advantage of minor thirds in ascending tritones, which is a pretty common as hell thing in metal and especially modern extreme metal. But everything about the band’s sound, despite it all being things you may have heard before from other bands, is done with such incredibly precise skill and honesty that it’s hard NOT to admire their style and get into it.

The title track manages to be creepy as hell and brutal as fuck all wrapped into one glorious riff that’s super chuggy, squealy and crawling and contorting before exploding into an absolute BARRAGE of guitar playing frenzy (there’s also one transition in it that sounds ripped straight from the SLAYER playbook) and blast and skank beats. And by the time I got to “Vile Skin Possession” the second riff in that song absolutely blew me away. That song is definitely one of my favorites on the album, if not my favorite. Has one of the most impressively groovy riffs and solos as well.

I remember when I saw “Apex Night Eclipse” on that aforementioned show they played with other bands in the style like ENFOLD DARKNESS, INANIMATE EXISTENCE and ARKAIK I was honestly blown away and so happy when I recognized it again since they chose to release it as one of the first singles. At the time, this song let me know that all the signature trademarks of the bands sound are still in tact and even expanded upon a bit, which can be said for this whole album. It kicks off with a torrent of guitar insanity that about 20 seconds in settles into a pretty straightforward riff followed by some spitfire growls from Michael. There’s slams and black metal riffing in this song too. One of the real strengths of this band is in their hooks though. Although this song and moment in particular is a bit cheesy when you actually dissect it lyrically, that “666” moment is super infectious and unforgettable.

Like I said before, the album and band in general doesn’t have much of a problem with songs bleeding into each other or being indistinguishable because the strength of the writing and performances are so solid, but the intro riff and verse sections of “Coffin Crescendo” don’t seem to be offering much of note if I’m being honest. That is until you get into the chorus which is this really epic and cinematic moment followed by a lead that sounds super Paul Masvidal of CYNIC-esque but with a really bizzare (in a good way) and evil progression behind it… that shifts as the solo continues over a very “The Apostasy” by BEHEMOTH sounding riff.

After a cover of DISSECTION’s absolute classic song “Where Dead Angels Lie” which is really well integrated into the sound of this album we come to the final cut on here, “Upon the Face of the Dead” which… the beginning sections honestly gives me the weirdest nostalgia because it reminds me of classic TRIVIUM material (when I was getting into metal they were my favorite band… also fun fact TRIVIUM’s drummer is drumming on here) while distinctly being ALTERBEAST, still. Its definitely some of the most melodeathy stuff on the album, but there’s tech deathy and black metally sections too. Chords and blast beats and grooves and BASS ARPEGGIOS. Oh, guess I haven’t mentioned yet that the bass is super audible on this album and has a really nice tone. It’s all super delicious. Honestly, “Upon the Face of the Dead” is a great epic closer to this thing.

This album is without a shadow of a doubt a step up and a more evolved effort that expands the band’s sound compared to their debut “Immortal,” while still retaining all of Andrew Lamb’s signature riffing styles. Michael’s vocal timbre is fucking unreal on this thing. He perfectly covers the whole spectrum of low to high pitched screams and the space in between with a commanding belligerence. The guitar tone is so crunchy and beefy and well defined. Both the lead tone and the rhythm tone. The whole mix sounds fantastic. The drums don’t sound quite as natural and un-sampled as I tend to prefer but maybe I’m mishearing. In any case, I really enjoy the hell out of this thing. Tech death fans everywhere need to be pre-ordering the crap out of this thing (and the new AUGURY and RIVERS OF NIHIL tbh). The boiz deserve your support, and to be able to get a really good first week of album sales. Jam “Apex Night Eclipse” below and get hype.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Welcome to Your Doom
2. The Maggots Ascension
3. Black Flame Illumination
4. Feast
5. Vile Skin Possession
6. Apex Night Eclipse
7. Coffin Crescendo
8. Where Dead Angels Lie (Dissection cover)
9. Upon the Face of the Deep
Michael Alvarez - Vocals
Andrew Lamb - Guitars/Bass
Record Label: Unique Leader Records


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