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Altar of Oblivion : Sinews of Anguish

Altar Of Oblivion from Denmark (Aalborg, Nordjylland) have formed in 2005. In 2007 they have released their debut demo that managed to gather the attention of many Epic Doom Metal fans worldwide. Now it is time for their debut album released by Shadow Kingdom Records.

From the demo days of the band I have noticed the flame, the dedication and the passion for the music they have chosen to play. Epic Doom Metal: Not the most popular musical genre in the universe, don’t you think? A very special kind of inspiration, a very special focus, an inner river of emotions and fears and a strange mood of melancholy will bring the music from the vaults of the composer’s mind and soul. Then all this music is embraced by the lyrics (written before or after the musical compositions) and the finalized, new born songs then have to face the reality, performed by musicians that in one way or another must share the same strange dark vision. This is in a few words the path of creation of an Epic Doom Metal album. A difficult one, because, believe me, they are very few out there that would chose to transform the melancholy and sorrow into sweet, catharsis-bringing music.

It is not difficult for the composer or composers to complete an Epic Doom Metal band and sometimes songs are stored and remain unrecorded / unreleased forever.

Altar Of Oblivion have followed their spirit through this path and no matter the difficulties, they have finally managed to complete their line-up (yeah it is the most difficult task in the world to find musicians for a Doom Metal band, believe me!) and to get what they deserve: A completed full length.

A full length my friends… A word so typical today in the era of myspace and facebook, the era of computerized music, the era of mp3 released albums but not so typical if you give a lot of blood and tears to complete your VISION. In the case of Altar Of Oblivion this full-length was a vision. A vision that was born into the mind, heart and soul of Martin “Melancholic Master” Mendelssohn even before Altar Of Oblivion’s first demo release. Autumn and winter of 2006 was the era that Martin dived into his own musical seas of Melancholy composing the stuff that you will be able to hear in this full-length, also dedicating hours of careful writing of the concept behind this album. The concept of our century’s biggest tragedy: World War II.

The Epic intro of 'The Final Piedge' with an immediate lead breaking form the beginning and its main pounding riff prepares the listener for what is about to follow: A Doom Epic Metal holocaust. The vocals of Mik “Meister Der Töne” Mentor are sounding so fucking great. What an unbelievable improvement since the demo era! Both in operatic, and straight Heavy / Epic style his voice is for sure the ultimate trademark of Altar Of Oblivion. Beautiful keyboards and guitar leads are filling the song and one of the strongest musical features of this album is introduced to the listener even from this first song: I am referring those powerful and epic choruses that are so memorable and would be another trademark of this Doom Metal masterpiece.

Do you remember 'Wrapped In Ruins'? It was the best song of the debut demo. Enjoy it here again even heavier. I will repeat what I have written in the demo review: This is a Doom Metal hymn. The song begins with a pounding riff enforced by a nice lead theme, the main part follows just before the chorus which is one of the best parts of Altar Of Oblivion’s music, yeas I remain into this opinion… just listen to the vocal’s melodies and you would understand my point, after the second chorus the song become slower and more Doomy offering us a great apocalyptic part just before the main pounding riff and the solo. Great stuff.

'Behind The Veil Of Nights' is a straight into the face Heavy Metal song. It represents the passion of the band for the classic Heavy Metal stuff but still is Epic and Doomy enough. Listen it loud. What follows next is 'My Pinnacle OF Power' which is one my favorite songs of the album -ok together with the classic 'Wrapped In Ruins' and some others-. An apocalyptic and darkly blessed introduction melody will soon be embraced by a vocal mourn, but soon the storm will strike under one of those pounding and skull crushing riffs of Mr Mendelssohn before the big surprise of the chorus will visit our ears. Well I am referring to those GREAT vocals of this very specific part. Advice: Use them more often next time, they sound so fucking heavy and they performed in this very special traditional and classic way that drives us back in times when Metal was Glory. A riff based Doom Metal anthem with great vocals. What else can we ask for?

'A Retreat Into Delusions' is the calm after –and not before- the storm of the previous one. It is Probably the saddest composition of the album with this magic touch of the flute. The eyes are remaining closed and the mind is travelling back (again). This is the power of music. The mournful operatic vocals will soon embrace the listener (well… again). The guitar melodies are awaking this hidden sadness that lies deep in our existence. This is not just another favorite; this is the bigger moment of the album. I can not find words…

Back in storm. 'Casus Belli' follows covered with agony and filled with ecstatic moments of Metal music. It will soon be followed by 'Stainless Steel' which is probably the heavier song of the album, covered with anger and with some great riffs. This is the song that gives another proof for the fact that this band knows how to play EPIC DOOM METAL nothing more and nothing less. Listen to the final part of this song if you want another great example.

The epilogue belongs to the track that has given the title to the album: 'Sirens Of Anguish'. Eleven minutes of total Epic Doom Metal performed in a dramatic and passionate way. Everything is here, the melodic mournful intro, the flute, the slow Doomy Parts, the apocalyptic vocals and leads. This track is a combination to all the great features of Altar Of Oblivion.

We have reached the end of the record and a few words should be written for the concept of the album. Mendelssohn has managed to refer to the drama of World War II in a very special way within his songs. I advise you to spend some time reading the lyrics –do it for the first time while listening to the music-, but spend some extra time just like if you were reading a book of poems-. Only this way you will have the chance to dive deep into the images of gray colors that Mendelssohn’s writing generates into the listeners mind. He has a very special way to emphasize into the war drama, bringing human emotion into the foreground meanwhile he re presents the hard and merciless face of every battle just to return on the human emotions again showing to the reader that in a war both winners and losers has their dramatic moments, even their dramatic final hours.

The production is ideal giving enough space for the Heavy as Hell rhythm section (thanks the members of Church Bizarre and Vicitmizer from Denmark that takes care of it, Alian B. Larsen is a very powerful drummer and the bass lines of C. Nörgaard –aka Vuml- rule) and of course the rhythm and lead guitars. The keyboards are feeling the musical background sweetly and of course the vocals and the great flute (performed by Cheryl Pyle) are attached currently in the sound wall of this album.

To make a long story short I would point that the album is a must for all those into Epic Doom Metal. If you have missed the debut demo of Altar Of Oblivion do not make the same mistake again. Here we got one of the greater Doom Metal releases of the year, if not the greater. Moreover the album is created by people fully dedicated to music showing love and respect to all this special musical stuff that still keeps us strong. The dedication of their album to the Strength and Musical spirit of 60s, 70s and 80s is another proof.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The Final Pledge
2. Wrapped in Ruins
3. Behind the Veil of Nights
4. My Pinnacle of Power
5. A Retreat into Delusion
6. Casus Deli
7. Stainless Steel
8. Sinews of Anguish

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Altar of Oblivion bandpage.

Reviewed on 11-06-2010 by Chris Papadakis
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