Aug 6, 2022

Altars - Ascetic Reflection (2022)

This is not good. Nine years is a long time, and that's how long it took Altars to put a second album together, after the fairly successful and competent Paramnesia in 2013. The band's body of work is based on stomping death metal, with a lot of angular song writing that brings Portal to mind, with passages that also remind of something between Gorguts and distant Ulcerate, but the base constantly being Morbid Angel. If you liked Paramnesia, I bet you will like Ascetic Reflection too, yet for me both records feel the same: they tackle themselves right at the point when it is about to get enjoyable. First things first, don't get fooled by this unconventional songwriting, there is really nothing intrinsically special or unique in the music of Altars, and it doesn't even come close to the actual genius behind a band like Portal for example, with which I have seen several comparisons being drawn around. Altars hold back too much, the compositions often stall too long and parts of the record can become basically empty and uninspiring, and at these times it's when a listener who is not so familiar with death metal music, or tries to critique it, will think this band is amazing. But it's not. In tracks like "Luminous Jar", the self-titled piece, or "Perverse Entity", actually solid material is being presented. The sense of coherence is still not there between different ideas, and to just abruptly stop playing a part to move to the next doesn't make you a good composer, yet there is still an amount of good moments. On the other hand, "Inauspicious Prayer" or "Black Light Upon Us" contain musical notions that amount to naught, and in between all tracks, Ascetic Reflection really aches in terms of flow. I don't like to think that this band is compared to behemoths of this style, like the aforementioned bands of this text. You can find better music than this and don't be fooled by it. [2/5 - Below Average]

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