GOSUDAR/MALIGNANT ALTAR – Split LP (2022)REVIEW

Collecting some leftovers from two of the more celebrated underground death metal bands of the last two years, each with their own dark atmospheric take on new ‘old school’ death metal eerie, this 12″ split LP covers a substantial enough half hour with Russian trio Gosudar heading off the charge with the bulk of the runtime and Texan death metal quintet Malignant Altar rounding off the tail end with their final two pieces. Expect mid-paced traditional death metal from both entities, each pushing an unbendable die-hard point of view be it particularly Slavic or North American.

As is typically the case with any split release, I’ve got a major preference for one side and this time around it is Gosudar‘s mismatched pair of songs on Side A. Both of ’em are just as worthy as those found on ‘Morbid Despotic Ritual‘ (2021) with “Domination of Irreality” particularly fitting in with the creeping brutality found on the second half of that record. The big deal here is “Mortified Transformation” a ten minute nigh death/doom metal ride which pulls out more of their Finnish death/doom side at its peak which fans of Phrenelith and maybe even Disembowelment should appreciate for its lingering gloom. Their arrangements still read as disarray, riffs which connect with sense but create an meandering statement, and this seems to work best on these longer pieces where they can worm in whichever direction comes naturally.

The sole original track from the miserable yet moshable Houston death metal crew Malignant Altar, “Malfeasance (Inexorable Enmity)”, is one of their better mid-paced songs thanks to its confrontational, stomping riffs and the keyboards they’ve used to haunt it up in the second half of the song. Their second cut is a cover of “The Awakening of Majestic Darkness” from Imprecation‘s debut 7″ ‘Sigil of Baphomet‘, a song which’d always impressed for its doom metal riffs, eerie keyboards and how that’d juxtaposed with their blasted-out sections. Their version of this song focuses on the heavier, sludged roll of the intro and generally making sense of the blasts in relation to the rest of the song while cooling them off. The keyboards don’t find the exact same feeling right away but the second layer added gets us to that horror dimension, a necessary mark to hit in tribute. Since the band’ve recently announced they’ll have to split-up for the time being fans will no doubt appreciate this addendum when scoping through their relatively short run, a strong cap to put on the major achievement that was ‘Realms of Exquisite Morbidity‘ (2021).

Though split releases rarely make a case for being memorable the Gosudar side and the art curation here make this one an essential grab on my part and likely an important document for folks who are just as enthused about Malignant Altar. More importantly the two-headed beast here generally thinks alike as the darker atmosphere and mid-paced gloom of each band pairs well in action. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
ARTIST:GOSUDAR / MALIGNANT ALTAR
TITLE:Gosudar / Malignant Altar [Split 12″]
LABEL(S):Me Saco Un Ojo,
Rotted Life Records
RELEASE DATE:December 16th, 2022

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