Release DetailsLABEL Indie Recordings
RELEASED ON 2/22/2013
Just a couple of odd, self-flagellating priest-like dudes out on the town and taking in some art with their pal, a giant floating heart with streamers nailed all over itself. No big deal.
If your chief goal for heavy metal is to find something to accompany evenings spent thinking about defiling nuns under the sweltering glimmer of a smoldering chapel, Norway's Altaar ain't likely to land on your list of potentials. But oddly enough, the principal protagonist behind this outfit's other band probably is, so go crank out some One Tail, One Head and we'll all meet at the ice cream parlor in 45 minutes.
For those of you left standing, I applaud you and your willingness to experiment with something that addresses heavy metal with what some would consider a bit of an outsider's approach. That, in a nutshell, is Altaar. According to my handy little press sheet, the band flashes "an avant-garde approach to attacking conventional doom" by mixing in sounds from "the classic psychedelic era."
While I'd agree that this record does indeed flash elements of doom and psychedelia, it is a FAR cry from, say, something like [insert retro-doom band of your choice right'chere], because the overall sound also incorporates extensive use of adjectives such as *drone-y* and *noisy* into the formula. (That's noisy, not nosy, so no, it doesn't sound like the aural equivalent of your little old lady neighbor peeking out from behind the curtains of her front window.)
Here's how things shake out…
"Tidi Kjem Aldri Att" (20:38) - I believe that roughly translates into "Did you just call me a hipster? Pistols at high noon, you twat."
Both tracks on Altaar represent fairly contrasting moods. "Tidi Kjem Aldri Att" plods from the gate at a slow & woozy clip, with just enough of a dustiness in the pedal effects to give it that "dark Western" Earth - Hex mood. Drums, bass and cleanly strummed guitar schlepp cooly and repetitively for the majority of the trip, but it's the smoothly blended specimens of miscellaneous noisiness, and the manner in which the center of the tune gradually builds that beautiful tension to a final Colt-blasting showdown at 13:10 that really sells the picture. By the end, one slinger stands the victor, with the last three minutes bitterly winding down alongside a creepy ambience and a repeating strike of a lone drum as the defeated cutthroat's filthy lifeblood gradually pumps its final essence into the cold, unforgiving dirt. Or something along those lines, anyway.
"Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nade" (14:13) - I believe that roughly translates into "Holy shit, take the water out of the survival pack, my XboX doesn't fit."
The other side of the coin pushes a decidedly contrary slant. There's still a c-hair's worth of dustiness when the guitars occasionally strum cleanly, but this cut's comprehensive delivery feels like a slightly darker, noisier post-apocalyptic affair. "Gradual" is still the name of the game, but "Die Absolutte…" puts a more immediate emphasis on beating up ears with a turbulence that's mostly driven by the album's first offering of crudely shouted vocals around the 4-minute mark. (Think Castevet-ish vox? Post-harcore-ish? It's honestly a bit outside of my typical wheelhouse.) And we also get a flash of genuine speediness around 7:15 before the tune eventually winds down with various bits of swirling noise during its closing few minutes.
Really a pretty cool album for those looking to test metal's boundaries without falling completely outside of our cozy little confines. I'd say that terrifically bizarre cover artwork (courtesy of Sverre Malling) paints as good a picture of what's in store as I could ever put into words: Just a couple of odd, self-flagellating priest-like dudes out on the town and taking in some art with their pal, a giant floating heart with streamers nailed all over itself. No big deal.
Here's a teaser for cut #2 to help get things started: