Severe Scourge is the latest EP from Portuguese death metalers Altar of Pain, a release which drives its festering consumption with a technical skill to match the destructive passion. It is also another example of the quality of bands and music bursting out from the country, every way you turn there is a not only another band waiting to be announced but one with a craft and invention to step out from the masses. Altar of Pain is no different and though Severe Scourge feels like an above average demo it is a mighty and impressive release which only fuels further promise from the band ahead.
From Madeira, the quartet of Elder Abreu (vocals), Guilherme Abreu (guitar, keyboards), Zé Rodrigues (guitar), and Marcelo Rodrigues (bass guitar, synth-fx), formed in 2010 with the intention of making heavy brutal death metal based music. Inspired by bands like Vader, Death, Morbid Angel, Asphyx, and Cannibal Corpse, the band first drew wider attention with their debut album The Ritual Has Begun of last year. Severe Scourge continues their fine progress with a storm of expansive and imaginative ideas fuelled by a blackened and skilled intent. There is nothing healthy about the sounds of Altar of Pain but nor is there anything dismissible, each song a stirring and concussive enjoyment which is so easy to return to again and again.
The EP is a release with only one real issue to contend with, the drums. They appear and sound as if they are all computerised. Though the band overall just get away with it, there are times it is a niggling itch which diminishes the quality elsewhere. The sound does not really integrate into the organic playing of the band and makes for an irritant which can distract too much at times. The thought though is that if the band find a strong and skilled drummer there will be no stopping them.
Opened by the senses crippling Death By Exsanguination, the release takes no time in igniting the fullest attention. Triumphant Pantera like riffs slash the air whilst a groove dripping in infection, twists around the ear with fangs sunk deep. The song is a breathtaking expulsion of energy, the band unrelenting in their bruising and exciting of the senses. The guitars scythe fiery patterns with their razor sharp play whilst the bass stomps and prowls around with a rabid menace for a combination which is impossible not to fall eagerly before. With the varied guttural growls of Abreu flinging words like plague ridden carcasses on top, it is a storm only pleasure can spawn from.
From the impressive opener Fatal Disease and The Fleshless Goddess offer their own unique corruption as the band explore and unleash further inventive play, the guitars especially in the first scorching the atmosphere with explosive solo work and scarring riffs. The pair keeps things boiling but it is with the latter part of the release where greater highlights lay in wait.
Infected is a corrosive beast which sears the synapses with crushing intensity and acidic guitar enterprise. Arguably less infectious as other songs, its deep rooted groove is merciless in its lure whilst the vocals and energy is a dehabilitating oppression allowing no place to hide. Again the band shows their songwriting is expansive and unafraid to explore which brings freshness to each and every song.
Top track award goes to Scriptorium, a song which is aural addiction. From an almost lumbering start it explodes into a raging rampage of battering corruptive riffs and incendiary melodic hooks, both leaving whiplash and adoration in their wake. With vehemence oozing from every syllable of the vocals and piercing sonic lashing accompanying the melodic contagion, the track is nothing but immense. Stick a live drummer in there and we are talking probable classic.
With only the earlier mentioned issue to throw at its hide, the Severe Scourge EP is an impressive slab of melodic death metal which genre fans will relish. It is surely only a matter of time before Altar of Pain is given the opportunity to unleash themselves in a full studio with all its armoury, when it happens watch them bring a real explosion to the corruption.
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