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Ancient Altar - Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

Ancient Altar
Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras
by Gary Hernandez at 09 June 2019, 6:13 AM

Hailing from Los Angeles, ANCIENT ALTAR, has been around since 2013. If they were a beer you might describe them as a heavy, dark ale infused with smoky overtones of Doom metal and a slight hint of absinthe. Lyrically, for those who don’t have preternatural auditory decoding skills, they tend to explore somber philosophical matters. As an example, their latest EP, “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras,” examines twin scenarios: “What if the universe were on an endless cycle of purge, reboot, rinse, and repeat?” and “What if there was a robot rising and humankind became foie gras for our cybernetic overlords?”

For those who follow ANCIENT ALTAR, you’ll be pleased to know “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” was recorded with the same line-up as their 2015 album, “Dead Earth.” Alternatively, you may be dismayed to learn they are now trimming down to a three piece, with Jesse Boldt (guitarist) and Etay Levy (drums) exiting and Geoff Summers (BATILLUS) coming in on drums. As a side note, philosophically speaking maybe lineup changes are just micro-plays of the cosmic purge impulse. Just saying. “Cosmic Purge” weighs in at just a little over ten minutes, and “Foie Gras” at 13, making this a nicely balanced vinyl artifact, which thankfully Black Voodoo Records is producing. While still excellent on digital format or CD, there is something about Doom metal that demands vinyl.

Sonically, “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras,” is a slow burn offering. Carefully orchestrated movements shift the listener from one major canto to another with subtly and confidence. Alternating between guttural and harmonious, the vocals of Scott Carlson and Barry Cavener are evocative and emotive, fusing well with the heavy, down-tuned riffs. Interweaving throughout are haunting solos—sometimes foreground, sometimes background—that help to progress the story as much as the lyrics. I should also mention the album art which is done by father/daughter team, Haylee Cavener and Barry Cavener. The eye in the sky, bloodshot image is an awesome pairing with the lyrical theme and the sonic renderings of the album. The planet in the pupil, which also looks like a spaceship flaring, lends a paranoid ‘eye of the beholder’ vibe—but I guess that depends on your state of mind.

If you’re into Doom, Stoner, or even Prog, ANCIENT ALTAR’s “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” is worth checking out. All in all, I am sad to see this lineup change, but I’m hopeful the next iteration will be just as solid.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Cosmic Purge
2. Foie Gras
Etay Levy - Drums
Jesse Boldt - Guitar
Scott Carlson - Bass/Vocals
Barry Cavener - Guitar/Vocals
Record Label: Black Voodoo Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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