Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Altars: Paramnesia (2013) - First Review

Circuit Split

I asked joanismylover if he wanted to review the same record as I was reviewing, and see how different our reviews turned out. So, let's just say this is his review of the vinyl Paramnesia, released on Blood Harvest, even though we both just got a digital version. My review will be posted in a few hours.

Is this death metal or black metal? According to the promo materials this is straight up death metal but I hear me some black metals in there, both in the music and the vocals. Whether you want to run out and buy this will depend on your tolerance mixed genre music and your preference among the two.

The songs on Paramnesia fall into the punishing category, and at times they drop into a swagger or head snapping hypnosis reminscent of old school death metal lurches. But while the structure of the OSDM pervades, the sound does not. Black metal blasting and distortion pepper the fringes of these songs. The opener "Mare" is a great example of this. It's not until the next song "Terse" that OSDM influences become obvious but the framework is nonetheless distorted, given the brief duration of that song (under 2 minutes). The sound is not unlike Abyssal but without that band's all in commitment to crushing the listener. Death metal bands are at times too focused on playing the shit out their instruments instead of pummeling the shit out of their listeners.

That's not to say this isn't heavy. It is . It's high quality stuff that is also threatening. At times, its black metal and relentless in its trip to the bottom. It's all negative here - death, decay and no light. I enjoyed it the most when the pace slowed and the build was greater, to wit, Ouroboros (Paramnesia - Part III), the 9 minute closer that combines the best of what the band has to offer.

Paramnesia is defined as "a distortion of memory in which fantasy and objective experience are confused."* Ultimately Altars are not confused. It's decidedly more death than black but the subject matter and music distortion but this in a small class of artists purveying similar music. Altars, along with the Portals and Abyssals of the world, are punishing the memory of both black and death metal by conflating the genres into one, confusing the listener's classification attempts, but not his experience. Since I am more into traditional OSDM and not a big black metal fan, I'm giving it 3 stars, but if you are a fan of death metal and don't mind your black metal, you'll rate this higher.

3 out of 5 stars

* http://www.thefreedictionary.com/paramnesia, accessed 8/26/13


  1. Heard a few tracks off this. And one must admit that i am having mixed feelings about it.

  2. There were parts of it I really really liked. But then there were a lot of "meh" parts, too.