Wednesday 13 March 2013

Altaar - S/T (Album Review)

Altaar - Altaar

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 22/2/2013
Label : Indie Recordings

Altaar, album tracklisting:

1) Tidi Kjem Aldri Att  19:58
2) Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde 14:13

With the object of finding alternative routes or approaches to heavy metal, without veering away from its primitive foundations, Altaar began recording their self-titled debut album in 2011, at Taakeheimen Lydrike Studio.

2012. One year on. ALTAAR have finally finished 2 new movements: "Tidi Kjem Aldri Att" and "Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolute Nåde". The songs make up each their respective side of an LP attacking conventional doom metal (Corrupted, Black Sabbath, Nortt) with references stemming from the classic Psychedelic era (Les Fleur De Lys, Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd).

To combat the vast need for visual aesthetics that match the direction of the band, ALTAAR have called upon Norway's premier illustrator, Sverre Malling, to collaborate with the artwork. The impact of his work reaches far beyond the borders of our small country, and with those similar ideas and directives the project can be fully realized. It is within the marginal changes, that the most compelling impacts occur. Only fully understood over time

2009 saw the band once again adding new members to the fold in the shape of Espen T. Hangård (KILLL, NoPlaceToHide), Kenneth Lamond (JR Ewing) and Didrik Telle (Obliteration). In the proceeding months the quintet toured the US and Europe, performed a commissioned piece at the Henie Onstad Art Museum as well as showcasing their music at respected festivals such as SXSW, Øya, Incubate and by:Larm. Due to the bands backgrounds in metal, punk/hardcore, noise and indie, ALTAARs live shows became an almost ritualistic experience. With concerts played either in perpetual darkness, stages bathed in candlelight or illuminated by projections of hand-picked films, the results drew the audience in to a place where they had to acquiesce, or react. Something that made the music all the more poignant and central.

The album was recorded at Taakeheimen Studio with Morten Øby, mixed by Espen T. Hangård at Dogskool Studio and mastered by Tom Kvålsvoll at Strype Audio.

Produced by Morten Øby
Mixed by Espen T. Hangård
Mastered by Tom Kvålsvoll

Line up

Andreas Tylden – Guitar, vocals
Sten Ove Toft – Electronics, guitar, piano
Espen T. Hangård – Guitar, synth, vocals
Didrik Telle – Bass

Kenneth Lamond – Drums


The new Altaar album features just two tracks, with both weighing in at a combined 34 minutes. That's right - two tracks, 34 minutes. Seems indulgent? Not at all.
Altaar are, at heart, a doom band from Norway. Not something especially new or revelatory given the landscapes of their native country, both sonically and geographically. There must be something they keep putting in the water over there. The key difference hidden within though is the psychedelic and progressive influences. You can hear both Pink Floyd and Hawkwind sewn into the sound. It's like if Cult of Luna had existed in the 1970s.
'Tidi Kjem Aldri Att' is entirely instrumental but probably says more than actual words. Very much a journey, it travels like a Pilgrim through an uncharted territory; cutting a swathe to the Promised Land. Subtle tones begin and build with a more serious intent as we reach harsher terrain, ploughing onward.
The scope on display here is truly epic. Sometimes these things can be convoluted or pretentious, but not this. Not once did this piece ever result in losing my interest, nor did it ever diminish my enjoyment. While not the heaviest thing I'm sure many of you here will have heard within your many varied listening lifetimes, there is no denying the weight it carries. Crisp, clean guitars are at the forefront throughout. This really does have a big 'guitar' sound. It gets more experimental around the halfway point and breaks out choral harmonies in an effort to build dramatically, which it accomplishes with grandeur. And then it decides to show its teeth. The latter part focuses on a solid sweeping riff, accompanied by echoing drums. Simple in nature but no less effective or gloom ridden.
'Dei Absolutte Krav Og Den Absolutte Nåde' is decidedly more fixated on being haunting. It quickly becomes more of a straight post-metal and doom hybrid. Shimmering riffs ripple as brief interludes, while progressive elements cascade and Black Metal speed enters the firing range on the drums. Vocals are on display briefly, but are not the point of focus. A great mix of equal parts slow and heavy, this creation has something to offer everybody.
I really hope that this is the beginning of something special. Highly recommended for fans of all things Scandinavian, experimental and doom-laden. Altaar are enough of a main event to really stand out from the rest of the pack.

Words by : Matt Fitton

As always show your support to the band. You can purchase this from all good stockists and is available now.  Thanks to Andy at Indie Recordings for hooking us with the album for review.