There is a brutal tempest coming from Los Angeles and it is shaped in the rather tasty form of the self –titled EP from Ancient Altar. The four track debut from the band is a voracious beast of an encounter unleashing a fusion of corrosive doom and suffocating sludge causticity. The release preys upon and slowly smothers the senses in an inhospitable hunger and intensity but within that ruinous intent there is a rich vein of seductive bait which twists the psyche into an even more submissive victim. It is a heavily striking introduction to a band already gaining acclaim and a potent reputation at home, a release with a wealth of imposing potential to suggest Ancient Altar has a massive future.
With the band formed in the latter weeks of 2013, the quartet of vocalist/bassist Scott Carlson, vocalist/guitarist Barry Kavener, guitarist Jesse Boldt, and drummer Tom Oz recorded their first release with Etay Levy (Lana Dagales, Gallows of Sedition, …Of the Dead). Mixed by Gary Griffth (Morgion) and mastered by James Plotkin (O.L.D., Khanate, Jodis), the EP has emerged as a real predator of an encounter, one taking little time to intrigue ears as opener Tidal squirts electronic lures to awaken attention. A sonic embrace accompanies the entrance, guitars stirring up their venomous breath and rhythms roaming through a few sinew swung beats and rolling leads. It is a relatively restrained start, that is until the toxic growls and spite of Kavener and Carlson leave their respective throats and squall vindictively across the senses. It is a riveting entrance which increases its bait as the song begins to crawl eagerly, riffs and rhythms building a stalking proposition to which the vocals continue to sweat causticity. Magnetic grooves and melodic acidity brings colour and richer temptation to the canvas of hostility, their lures equipped with a swagger and enterprise to ignite the imagination further. It is a stunning first encounter with the band, the track continuing to roam almost salaciously around the senses with its wares as flirtatious as they are barbarous for an enthralling and powerfully gripping predation.
Things just get bigger and better with the exceptional Ek Balam. The track is almost nine minutes of sheer sonic and intrusive temptation, working on ears and passions from its opening seconds of evocatively enticing guitar. The slow melodic stroking is as intriguing as it is coaxing, it’s hinting of things to come undefined but potently inviting. The darker tones of bass add another texture to the irresistible lure before guitars and rhythms descend with an abrasive punkish vivacity on ears and already greedy appetite. Riffs build a compelling and insatiably baiting web of repetition and seduction, a persistent and unrelenting instinctive tempting which bewitches and engrosses with lean but intensely expressively sonic and melodic ingenuity. Mid-way in the mystique of the track takes on an even heavier and more intimidating purpose, laying down a landscape for the painfully raw, tonsil scarring vocal roars to spill their animosity over. It only adds to the drama and addictive nature of the track though, riffs and barbed grooves continuing to bind and infest the psyche and emotions whilst rhythms jab and punch with formidable intent to punctuate every twist and lurch of the outstanding track.
Its major triumph, alone a reason to recommend and drool over the band, does leave the final two tracks struggling to impress as dramatically. Feed comes first and immediately finds a fiery groove to wrap around ears within a great agitated web of rhythms. It makes for a strong start with rich essences of seventies psychedelic metal and citric stoner-esque hues but with the vocals more a loose scowl than a commanding presence and the song itself a constantly shifting stomp of admittedly pleasing endeavour, the track feels more like a jam than a acutely honed incitement. Nevertheless it still has emotions and ears greedily satisfied before making way for closer Pulled Out. Another long proposition, the track is a simmering journey with a sonic sultriness to its atmosphere to which the vocals scrape away mercilessly. Again as raw as it is brutal, the song is a thoroughly absorbing and very often punishing experience, one which equally spellbinds and ferociously intimidates, though it misses reaching the same levels of the scintillating first pair of songs on the EP.
Ancient Altar is a prospect very easy to get excited about and expect big things from on the evidence of their debut alone. The pressure is on the band but you just do not feel they will disappoint.
The Ancient Altar EP is available now via Midnite Collective digitally @ http://midniteclv.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-altar and on extremely Ltd Ed cassette @ http://midniteclv.storenvy.com/
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