Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Altaar - Altaar (2013)

Altaar [ Facebook | Bandcamp ]
Indie Recordings

Altaar - Altaar
The self-titled debut long-player from Norway's Altaar contains just two songs, but its thirty-four minute existence treats listeners to a somber processional consisting of plodding riffs, post-metal atmospherics, and tastefully placed howls.

Altaar was spawned in 2007 by bassist Andreas Tylden as a means of giving voice to the varying musical ideas that could not be expressed within the confines of his black metal outfit One Head, One Tail. After releasing an EP in 2009, Tylden was joined by noise-crafter Sten Ove Toft, drummer Kenneth Lamond, bassist Didrik Telle, and guitarist/keyboardist Espen T. Hangård to begin work on what would ultimately become Altaar.

The two songs on Altaar offer a differing, but complimentary, listening experience. The first, entirely instrumental track - "Tidi Kjem Aldri Att" - is a mesmerizing interpretation of classic and funerary Doom. Hints of occultish keyboard accents are interwoven with plucky guitar leads and an oppressively sluggish pace in a veiled homage to the founding bands of the genre. Almost halfway through the song the fairly traditional sounds fade away to be replaced by a heavily synthesized, post-metal soundscape. If the first 9+ minutes weren't enough to lull you into a sense of morose self-reflection, this interlude will certainly induce a semi-hypnotic state of contemplation before the weighty riffs make a crushing return.

"Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde", the album's second and final song, opens with a bit of an Eastern/sci-fi ambiance before, nearly four minutes later, rumbling fuzzed-out riffs herald the arrival of Tylden's raw-throated vocals. A little bit of black metal urgency seeps into the composition to underscore the vocals, but by and large the song remains true to an overall Doom style. In its later moments, however, "Dei Absolutte Krav..." devolves into a sonic haze of feedback and reverb that hints at Tylden's more experimental tendencies.

Altaar draws on elements of drone, noise, post-metal, and even black metal to build upon its Doom foundation for a result that packs a lot of experiences into a relatively short runtime. While traditional Doom enthusiasts may find this album too tedious for repeated listening, open-minded aficionados of experimental and noise-oriented artists will be pleased with Andreas Tylden's vision.

Track Listing
1Tidi Kjem Aldri Att19:58
2Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde14:13
Total Runtime34:11

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