November 27, 2013 | , | 3.75

Altars, Paramnesia

Altars: Paramnesia

That last time I heard from Australia’s Altars was back in 2008 and their pretty solid demo. So what have these dudes been doing for the past five years? Well they haven’t been suffering from the condition gracing their first full-length offering, that’s for sure. Instead, the band has been fine-tuning and tweaking their churning brand of death metal.

Paramnesia is an album of mixed emotions. Overall, the music within these eight tracks is full, morbid and shrouded in buzzing malevolence. The problem here is that, like many band’s, Altars tend to get a little “wordy” with their material. I don’t mean that in a lyrical sense. There are moments within their debut where the music gets a little long and unfocused. I’m a fan of big songs, but not at the detriment of the music or the listener. There’s nothing wrong with trimming the fat and a couple of songs here (the back-to-back duo of “Khaz’neh” and “Solar Barge” for example) could certainly use some of that. When the band keeps things nice and tight is where they are at their best.

Album opener, “Mare” sets the tone nicely as the group channels their inner Immolation and Incantation in the process of delivering murky, churning riffage and solid rhythm work. Moody and malevolent the music on that first song more than prepares you for what is to come. It’s smoothly followed up by the appropriately titled “Terse,” which lasts but a mere minute and a half. In that short time, however, the band sling around massive riffs and dynamic tempo shifts like a silverback gorilla jacked to the tits on steroids.

The aforementioned “Khaz’neh” starts off solidly enough with some sick guitar work and heavy handed drumming, but it runs a bit long. I particularly love the staggered marshall riffage over the first minute or so, but the band loses its way a touch later on. This and the following track combine for just about 16 minutes of music that has some bright spots, but ultimately make for a bit of a momentum killer so early in the album. “Husk” does it’s best to make up for the meandering with a directed shot at your cranium of gnarly, twisted and violent death metal. This is a killer track that is followed up by the equally slaying “Descent” — the first of a trilogy of final songs.

Paramnesia is a solid first crack from Altars. The music is finely-honed and deadly. It could just due with a little trimming here and there. I personally find lean and tight death metal to be much more effective than that which may be a bit bloated and the music here is leaning more toward how my gut looks after the upcoming Holiday season — stuffed with unnecessary food items. Still, there’s much to be enjoyed here and the band certainly shows promise of some violence to come.