Ancient Altar – Self Titled EP


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 aa_digimelodic 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 @ and on extremely Ltd Ed cassette @


RingMaster 22/07/2014

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Sunsmasher – Hell/Noise/Church


A sonic suffocation and intrusive adventure which smothers the senses whilst igniting the imagination, Hell/Noise/Church the new EP from Scottish metallers Sunsmasher, is one of those exhaustive violations you can only welcome hungrily.  The three track release is not a comfortable listen but certainly a compelling ravaging to which addiction is an easy option. A merger of doom, crust, sludge, noise and plenty more, the Glasgow trio’s sound takes no prisoners and shows no mercy ensuring that their new EP is an inescapable predator, one fuelled by a thrillingly corruptive toxicity.

The Glasgow quartet was formed in 2010 with the intent to create ‘claustrophobic, intense, and violent music’ with essences bred in the member’s background in the Scottish grind, crust, and hardcore scenes. Debut release, the Mammothian/Loud/Cult demo a year later drew good attention and helped the band to a potent following which was accelerated as Sunsmasher exhausted stages alongside bands such as Conan, Dragged Into Sunlight, Monarch, and Wormrot. The last couple of years saw a few line-up changes in the band and a stronger crust and noise inspired sound emerging through their original doom seeded invention, the result as evidenced by Hell/Noise/Church, a not exactly unique but certainly a hellacious proposition individual to the band. Mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate/O.L.D.) and recorded with Kevin Hare (Black Sun), the new release easily pushes Sunsmasher into a greater spotlight, one deserving to reward as much as the band thrills.

Axe To Grind emerges from an increasingly intensifying and swirling sonic incitement, though the emergence is more a vicious launch at Sunsmasher - Hell-Noise-Church - coverthe ears with guitars and drums carving chunks from the senses and synapses whilst vocals squall with a razor sharp edge and malicious savagery. It is a brutal abrasion of hardcore and noise voracity which within seconds has ears ringing and emotions cowering. The band soon teaches though that they are unafraid to experiment and wrong foot as the track suddenly stops and drops into the thick embrace of an oppressive sludge prowl. Bass and drums find a restraint to their onslaught, though not their bestial intimidation, whilst the guitars merge a melodically hinting sonic tempting with a deeper guttural growl. It is a riveting enticement which consumes and invigorates simultaneously; a droning bait veining it all to captivate infectiously as a stalking low slung groove seduces. With vocal and atmospheric torments searing the air, the track is hypnotic slavery which grows stronger and more compelling over time.

The following Redeemer is just as rapacious but uses a ‘lighter’ sonic toxin to master senses and passions early on. There is a discordant lilt to the guitar call which immediately adds a tempting edge to the opening crawl whilst the lumbering rhythms and heavy throat of the bass provide a formidable canvas for the evolving stature and incitement to ravage. The best track of the three, the song worms its way into the psyche for a long term and intensely lingering chastisement.

Final song Perdition lets a great bass line draw in the imagination first, guitars soon joining it’s tempting with magnetic riffery. The initial premise of the song is almost gentle in comparison to that of the previous tracks, a caustic yet embracing abrading. It is not for long though as the weighty intensity of the track smothers all to enclose and consume the senses. Confirming the invention and exploratory heart of the band, the new thick doom clad swamp of sound is speared by a heavy swaggering groove right out of the Pantera songbook before merging all essences into a choking and enlivening strangling. As all the songs, it twists and turns with enterprise and malevolence, employing all the flavours announced at the start of the review into a mouthwatering and contagious destruction.

Obviously Sunsmasher and Hell/Noise/Church are not going to be for everyone but for noise corruption and feral sonic sculpting within a sludge/doom landscape it is hard to recommend much better.


RingMaster 26/03/2014

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