Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Altars: Paramnesia (2013) - Second Review

Australian Avant-Death Explained Scientifically

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 my review of the CD Paramnesia, released on Nuclear Winter, even though we both just got a digital version.

To say that a band “kind of sounds like Portal” is usually just a cop-out way of saying “they play some twisted, mutant form of death metal.” I’ve said that bands sound like Portal before. More often, I’ve pointed out that it is, usually, a cop-out to say that. Usually!

Altars, on the other hand, actually sound like Portal. Well, not all the time, but much of the time. Being fellow Australians, they’re exposed to similar levels of Cthulhu’s farts. Scientists are just now beginning to understand the symptoms of exposure to Great Old Flatulence: Riffs that swirl around the wrong way, ending unnaturally, sounding just a little like black metal throwing up all over itself. In case you couldn’t already tell, that’s a good thing.

Paramnesia sounds the most like Portal on “Mare” and closer “Ouroboros,” but those Portalisms can be found on any song. That’s not everything to the sound of Altars, though. Some of their sounds are a little less bizarre, and more in the style of Incantation’s sepulchral sermons. Some of the solos make sense, too.

Portal are at the Mountains of Madness huffing silent-but-deadlies from Ycnàgnnisssz, Cxaxukluth and the mighty Lu-Kthlu., Altars are in a tomb at the foothills, puffing the queefs of Mynoghra. It’s closer than anyone else has been.

Altars are a death metal band that’s actually worth writing about. These days, there are too many who aren't.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

And yes, I had fun looking at Wikipedia’s “Cthulhu Mythos deities.”


  1. "puffing the queefs of Mynoghra". Great line, and review. But doesn't that put it lower than a four?

  2. Everything Portal's ever done is a 5. That is axiomatic. So, scientifically speaking, this must be a 4, if you use that analogy.

  3. Wow, someone else whose collection includes both Portal and 16 Horsepower! I nearly popped an aneurysm when I saw the tags to your Pesanta Urfolk post. I've only recently stumbled upon your blog and have already found some great new listening. It's so refreshing to find such perceptive posts by someone who seems to approach music in much the same way that I do!
    More to the point, I rarely find I'm able to get into bands that people tend to describe in terms of "they sound like X Amazing Band." My reaction to these bands has almost always been "Yes, they do sound a lot like X Amazing Band, though somewhat less amazing. So if I wanted to listen to something that sounds like X.A.B., why don't I just listen to X.A.B. and benefit from the full extent of the amazingness?" That being said, I feel that this review alone makes Paramnesia worth at least one good, full listen. Even if I'm not crazy about it, the review still made my day and had me laughing out loud. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I think there are a lot more metalheads who are into 16HP than you would expect. The mere existence of Pesanta Urfolk and the Stella Natura event (a festival that included Stargazer, Esoteric, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, and Hexvessel, among others) is a testament to that. A whole lot of what Neurot is doing blurs those lines as well. Check out Nate Hall and USX, for instance.

      Also, if your interests include both of those, you should read my review of Bloodiest's Descent.

      You're right to be suspicious of anything that can easily be said to "sound like X.A.B." And I tend to fall back on that quite a bit in my reviews. But I try to take care to distinguish between the ones that are pale imitations and the ones that provide something unique, or simply do it so well that they don't have to be original (the latter is quite rare).