Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar

We all know what non-old school “death metal” sounds like in 2015.  I’d like to think we’re all bored of it.   I’d like to think we can make it savage again without moving backwards, since the idea of moving forwards in 2015 is more notes, more chugs, more sweeps, more frills, less substance.  Less “songs.”  Do you remember when you could name every death metal song you liked by name when you heard it?  Can’t really do that anymore, but maybe I’m just getting old.  As my attention span dwindles and my memory fades though I’m becoming more selective, and maybe that’s what we all need.  So can Apocrophex help us out of the rut by giving us some songs, or just a clinic like most metal albums today?

The answer is kind of in between.  The first thing you hear on Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar is a kind of The Shattering-esque type of riff, who was Spawn of Possession-lite for the uninitiated.  So, it’s a notey scaley mess, which you know the youtube kids will cream over, but then it does yield to a heavier, chunkier older school sound for the remainder of the song and much of the record.  Old school does not necessitate better per se since both eras do have their faults, but I’d say the sound of the record is more rooted in what made death metal memorable in the past than the theatrics of today’s albums.  Unfortunately despite this foundation not many of the songs have that identifiable element that make each tune unique and important.  Although the guitar tone and the occasional choice part are very Sickening Horror, unfortunately that and the lack of defining characteristics made me just want to listen to Sickening Horror.

There is a nice chunky groove to the title track and there are occasionally surprising chord shifts such as the descending chugs in “The Grey” and the bizarre contrast of the main motif of “The Nine Patterns of Anuu,” but there isn’t enough of a palette of moods to necessitate the number of tracks here, which admittedly, isn’t very expansive.  And despite the modern production, there are some pretty harsh edits that are totally audible and the times when multiple guitars enter the mix leave the songs sounding flat when the bells and whistles disappear to leave one guitar track.  These are minor qualms however and I am much more a critic of the substance of the material the band has tried to present than the issues of the mix of the record.

There is a bit of a satisfying, early Unique Leader sound here yet with a slightly more futuristic sci-fi leaning to the record, and the attention to heaviness over flash is an important trait that automatically gives it an edge over their sweep-obsessed peers.  It’s a good midway point between the extremes of the genre and has more in common with say Mortal Decay than Psycroptic, although if you are looking for the link between those sounds this may be a good choice.  As far as more effective, memorable compositions in the same manner, I’d recommend something like the most recent Homicide album, although this band definitely shows promise and with a wider range of elements to their sound could really craft an effective, quasi-modern death metal release.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jerry Hauppa
March 26th, 2015


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