Altar of Oblivion – Grand Gesture of Defiance

By Gruesome Greg

These guys are from Denmark, and yet they generally play slow, with a singer who, while expressive, doesn’t have a four-octave range. So much for the Mercyful Fate comparisons…

There is definitely more than a hint of Candlemass, however, in tunes like “Where Darkness is Light,” a plodding, chugging number that culminates in an uplifting chorus drenched in stadium-style, raise-your-sword-and-yell power-metal vocal antics. “The Graveyard of Broken Dreams” continues the tendency towards power-tinged doom, like a cross between Candlemass and Atlantean Kodex, the deep-voiced Meister der Töne (nice stagename, buddy!) putting his own stamp on the proceedings.

Man, that opening flourish of “In the Shadow of the Gallows” really hits you, sorta like “Solitude” or, dare I say it, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Heady praise, to be sure, but these guys are solid songwriters, creating the mood of a man heading towards his execution, and delivering a gloomy outlook, indeed. After a Malmsteen-style instrumental (well, minus the wankery), the band gets right back into it with “Sentenced in Absentia,” another slice of epic doom, the Meister adopting more of a higher pitch on his tone this time around. “Final Perfection” is a bit lighter, the verses sparse and airy, allowing the vocals more room to maneuver with a touch of gothic melodies perhaps, but built on a solid doom foundation.

I must say, this record kinda snuck up on me, not having heard any of Altar’s previous work. But man, this is some high-quality epic doom, right here. Perhaps the best stuff to come outta Denmark since… (well, I’ll let you finish that thought). [Artillery? Volbeat? – Da Ed]

(Shadow Kingdom)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.