Saturday, 14 December 2013

Altar of Betelgeuze - Darkness Sustains the Silence - Album Review

Darkness Sustains The Silence cover art

Altar of Betelgeuze is a Death/Doom/Stoner Metal Band from Finland.

The band members are:

Matias Nastolin (bass, death vocals, spoken word)
Olli "Otu" Suurmunne (guitar, clean vocals)
Juho Kareoja (guitar)
Aleksi Olkkola (drums)

Prepare yourself for the coming of 'Darkness Sustains the Silence', the debut full-length album by Finland's Altar of Betelgeuze. Have your record player ready and your front door open wide, your eager and darkly-clothed body mounted inside of it, and try (though this is not your main concern) not to scare the living shit out of your mail carrier when you snatch the LP from his suspicious and quivering hands.

Strong guitars start us off during "Epitaph" and there isn't an ant's crumb of a doubt in my mind that I am about to enjoy a very impressive body of work. It has got an instrumental sort of doom-laden Iron Maiden vibe to start us off; a very classic and infallible choice of introduction. I didn't know what turn the album was going to take once it broke into A World Without End, and then bam, hello, low, slow bass and drums of doom, how I welcome thee to my humble ears. Growling vocals are introduced and some truly evil-sounding spoken word paired with a quicker beat and this is when I realized I wasn't just being served a plate of doom-cakes, but a seven course meal consisting of every genre I love paired together with finesse.

Some damn catchy, quicker riffs come into play in Spiral of Decay. in addition to the death/doom styled vocals we are also introduced to cleanly sung vocals with a stoner vibe, paired with none other than stoner-doom riffs. My head was really banging once I hit this track.

Steamroller gives us some colossal doom to start and keeps it going with a clobbering base line throughout and more of those uniquely excellent, clean vocals. Vocally this song gives me a serious Goatsnake vibe, which I never would have expected from the beginning of the album and I am totally ok with this. "What do you say? i'm a one eyed man, i'm a one-eyed battering ram, i'm a full fledged steam roller…" Yeah, remember that, because it will be stuck in your head for days and you will like it.

Smoldering Clouds Above Orion is one of two epic-length tracks on this album. By this time i'm starting to realize just how perfectly each song is titled. Each track truly feels like it's name throughout it's entirety. We are now getting a desert rock, almost Egyptian atmosphere thrown in. Oh, wait, more scintillating death growls, blast beats. Egyptian death/doom, riffs soaring like a sacred ibis across the sky. Also being brought back into the mix is more of that gratifying baseline which transcends heavy genres and can only be described as Thorr bringing the mighty hammer, Mjolnir, repeatedly down upon your head. I mean really, if you aren't head-banging to this, I think you might need a metal health inspection.

The Approaching Storm, again, a very appropriate name for one of the more punishingly slow doom songs on the album. It ain't no funeral, but my it is fucking nice as hell on a frigid winter day. I would dare say that with the use of repeated baselines and certain other parts throughout the album that we could say there's a little drone thrown into this already rich and rare delicacy of a musical dish. With the following track, Out of Control, we get more of that stellar guitar work in the beginning and some almost thrashy guitar parts. Another track combining flawlessly the growling and clean vocals with spoken word thrown in at the end, haunting and black.

Now we come to Darkness Sustains the Silence, the gargantuan title track. It runs at the heaviness and speed of one-billion sloths in slow motion. For the first few minutes you may fall into slumber and dream a tantalizingly bleak dream as you throw your head back, before you awake, thrusting it forward again. We have more spoken word, clean vocals sparring off with quick and intense riffs, instruments becoming blackened, layers added to the sound, a dazzling guitar solo towards the end. Yet another special touch that just brings this album to the ranks of perfection is that we are given ten seconds of silence to end the track, once again feeling every bit in the image of it's title and giving us a quiet moment in the dark to let this album sink into our skulls.

Darkness Sustains the Silence is an elite, genre-transcending elixir that I feel certain will end up on quite a few lists upon it's release in 2014.This album offers a little something for everyone; death, doom, stoner, classic, drone, black metal… I'm going to go ahead and steal inspiration from the term "super-group" and call this "super-genre" (and how appropriate, being that Betelgeuse itself is a superGIANT). The band has managed to blend all of these styles together flawlessly and with absolute confidence throughout the album. No detail was left unnoticed, and each member completely dominates their part. It is absolutely delectable from beginning to end.

Written by Heather Stubbs

I agree with Heather's review of this excellent album. A thunderous album which will cause a sitr once it's released in early 2014. My advice - Buy it straight away!!!

Thanks to Raul at Memento Mori Records for sending us a promo to review. Darkness Sustains the Silence will be available to buy from Jan 1st 2014.

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