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Altar of Oblivion : Grand Gesture of Defiance

If Denmark’s Altar of Oblivion are students of the old school of Doom Metal (and they are), then they are A students.

Over the last 20 years or so, the traditional structure and focus of a rock and roll song has lost its importance to Metal. Now, it’s about sound, about feeling, about atmosphere and sonic violence. Even among the many groups who play an “old school” style, there are far too many who miss the point. They can capture the sound of yesteryear, play the riffs and the solos, but they fail to structure their songs like true rock music.

If Denmark’s Altar of Oblivion are students of the old school of Doom Metal (and they are), then they are A students. Like all the others, they’ve captured an old school sound: In this case, it’s epic Doom Metal. But they rise to the top of the curve for two big reasons.

First, they don’t sound exactly like a band you’ve already heard before. When I hear the term “old school Doom,” I usually ask, “So do they sound like Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, or Candlemass?” For these guys, it’s none of the above. Candlemass would perhaps be the closest, because of the epic feel and theatrical vocals. But AoO never sounds like they’re playing Candlemass songs. The riffs, solos, and mood are quite distinct, more energetic and less depressive. So they get extra credit for that.

Secondly, and more importantly, Grand Gesture of Defiance has extremely catchy songs. The riffs are solid and infectious; with all the string bends and other flourishes, they’re the kind that can’t be portrayed by musical notation alone. The choruses are unforgettable, with vocal hooks that beg you to sing along, whether you can hit the notes or not (probably not). The compositions also flow naturally from verse to chorus to verse to solo and chorus again. It’s a predictable formula, but there’s a good reason that formula has been around for such a long time. This puts them head-and-shoulders above most of their peers. And, like any of the B students, they’ve also put plenty of dynamism into their compositions: Slow and fast parts, lows and soaring highs. There’s also an instrumental interlude that reminds me of Mercyful Fate’s “Room of Golden Air.” Given that it’s called “The Smoke-Filled Room,” I think it’s safe to say it’s a tribute to their fellow Danes.

If you’re still concerned about whether their sound is any good, you can rest easily. The production has clarity that allows you to hear every instrument, but it’s far from antiseptic. The instruments all have a traditional sound, so no one will say they hate the tone of any of the instruments. There are occasional synths, but they are so unobtrusive that when you do notice them you’ll wonder if they’ve been there the whole time. And the vocals are quite good and not likely to be divisive, even if they are a tad thin. If you've heard the band before, you'll also be pleasantly surprised that he sings in the style from their Salvation EP rather than Sinews of Anguish, yet he's improved in every way.

To sum it all up, Altar of Oblivion are one of the most promising old school Doom Metal bands out there. Grand Gesture of Defiance is fantastic.

Check out http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/ for more metal reviews and commentary from Kelly Hoffart aka Full Metal Attorney.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Where Darkness Is Light
2. The Graveyard of Broken Dreams
3. In the Shadow of the Gallows
4. The Smoke-filled Room
5. Sentenced in Absentia
6. Final Perfection

Duration : Approx. 35 minutes

Visit the Altar of Oblivion bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-10-09 by Kelly Hoffart
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