In mashing the bloody, forgotten corpse of ‘across the pond’ deathgrind with the horror of atmospheric death metal San Jose, California quartet Altars arrive as an orchestra of feedback that boils up into a circle pit of satisfying riffs and reeking bodily humours alike. Formed in 2015 with notable members from local powerviolence heads Deadpressure and off-and-on deathgrinders In Disgust, Altars takes a deeper turn toward ancient death metal and its modernist atmospheric insurgency. That is to say you’re going to hear baked-in structural hints of bands like Dead Infection, early Brutal Truth, and Impetigo but also some vicious Morbid Angel style attacks amidst a slurry of atmospheric transitions. If you can imagine an early 90’s deathgrind band covering “Evil Spells” but with Desecresy‘s downward gaze that’d more or less sum up the vibe of Altar‘s debut 7″ EP.
There is some valuable balance achieved between the everyman conceit of deathgrind and psychoactive snarl of atmospheric death metal techniques and a warmly buzzing, resonant production helps marry the two poles. “Black Magic” is the standout for my taste as it not only has a ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ sort of aura but what impresses me most is how confident and personality rich Altars are already; Crazed howls, an Araya-esque shriek, and a rolling set of riffs you’d expect from a band like Grave Miasma make for one of many reasons to check this band out. That hint of a pulse is rare enough that I’m excited to see if Altars find the momentum they need for more. The whole thing is only ~8 minutes so you’ve got time to give it more than a few spins.
Encroaching dark horizons. 3.75/5.0
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