Saturday, March 26, 2016

Altarage (review by Akerblogger)

Claustrophobic and Devouring: Altarage - Nihl (2016)
NIHL, the debut album by Spain's Altarage, is an overwhelming and all-consuming force of dense matter that completely drains all colour and life. The vocals are a hazy and grating, a vibrating shape-shifting monster that crawls from the deep and devours life - I imagine it's the noise that the shadowy and creeping arachnid-demon creature in the fantastic album artwork would make.
The entire thing, from the band logo to the artwork to the song-titles to the most important aspect - the music itself - is dripping in a claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere; the production here is full and bass-heavy and the rumbling of the drums and the grating vocals are an incessant attack on the senses - the album succeeds in stunning the listener into submission. I'd attribute this partly to the diverse drum-work: they close 'Baptism Nihl' with a ritualistic pounding; similarly in creeping atmosphere of 'Batherex' they rumble with a demonic steadiness; towards the middle and end of 'Vortex Pyramid', as the song breaks down into further instability and chaos, the supersonic drum-work is frantic, almost inhuman, and at 3.45 breaks in to a jazz-like death-metal drum solo.
NIHL is a gem riff-wise too: heavy chugs merge with creaking dissonance, laser-sharp stabbings of coldness merge with reverberating atmospheres and old-school mid-paced grooves merge with intense spurts of brutal-death skull-crushery - it's all very well done. At 36-minutes NIHL is the perfect length for an album of such intensity; not too short - leaving dissatisfaction - but not at all dragging on, becoming stale. The album ends leaving me, at least, craving more brain-sapping and skull-crushing intensity which, at a most simple level, is the sign of a captivating album.
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