Review from Metal Temple

April 12, 2018
From: Metal Temple
Published: April 12, 2018 

Hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Blackened Doom/Death Metal band ALTARS OF GRIEF formed in 2013. The story behind the second full-length album “Iris,” is rooted in their prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness, and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for this young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiraling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by her new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him. The album contains eight tracks.

“Isolation” sets a somber tone for what is to be an emotional and expressive tale. Graceful and majestic, the wistful clean vocals hover over a bed of creeping desolation, while the harsh vocals provide the bitterness and indignation. There is a frail beauty here in the depths of your soul that I have not heard as dramatic and eloquently in some time. From isolation…to desolation…moving you further down that path to death…“Desolation” is strikingly more aggressive. Agonizing harsh vocals reflect the despair and rage of watching something happen to someone you love and can do nothing about, and ultimately giving in to the hopelessness.

“Iris” talks about the main subject of the story, and the struggles of faith in the face of adversity. “My God! I’ll see the Heavens burn!” sums up the father’s sentiment quite well. The doleful music is enhanced by a rigorous vocal performance and some somber lead guitar notes that fall like tears down your cheek. Anger burns intensely, sweltering inside. “Child of Light” talks more about Iris and her faith, and the illuminated resolve of the father’s lack thereof. Beautiful clean guitars and strings open the song, leading to a lumbering exalted sound that digs deep into your soul. The passages alternate from here, attempting to twisting your heart but your will is stronger. Full personal dejection is the subject of “Broken Hymns.” “I stand now in the ashes of a world become a tomb…every thought another grave…interred with memories of you.” The music just keeps spiraling deeper and deeper into the void that has become his existence. Stirring but sharp, like a knife buried into your chest, the cold closes in around you and your eyes slowly fade. The clean vocals are tender but so very expressive, and this tale is moving in ways that are hard to fully describe.

“Voices of Winter” signals a culmination in the tragedy In many ways. Regret. A long and cold winter can subject you to absolute hopelessness. All you have is frozen landscapes and colors of grey. “A vision of pale limbs frozen forever…statuesque as you…a monument to failure.” The music is mind numbing, like a sickness spreading across the land that you have no immunity to, and you slowly wilt away to nothing. “Becoming Intangible” is literally the end of the story. In the end, he talks about judgement coming with revelation, and accepting God again. The ponderous sound and pace works best for me with clean vocals, which is how they are delivered here. His voice speaks to you as if it was inside of your own head. About half way through, the sound picks up, a final push to the finish. The vocals moan with anguish, and then some final somber footsteps.

The brief “Epilogue” that closes the story is a nice final touch. Funereal strings provide a final sad serenade and give you pause to consider the pilgrimage of the album as a whole. A good story can be a wonderful basis for an album to build around, and that is exactly what we have here in ALTAR OF GRIEF’s “Iris.” What they do so well is make the connections between what is on paper to how they compose and play the songs, and to how it connects with your emotions as a living person. If this album doesn’t completely move you on an impassioned level, you might want to check your pulse to see if you are still breathing. Marvelous!

Rating: 10/10
Reviewed by: Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell 

Review from In Your Eyes Zine

April 11, 2018
From: In Your Eyes Zine
Published: April 9, 2018

I canadesi Altars Of Grief sono nati nel 2013, fondamentalmente come progetto estemporaneo per Evan Paulson e i suo compagni, per poi diventare di fatto per tutti loro la band principale nella quale convogliare ogni sforzo.

Se già il full length d’esordio forniva segnali incoraggianti sul potenziale del gruppo ed il successivo split con i Nachtterror rafforzava non poco tali impressioni, è con il meraviglioso Iris che i ragazzi de...

Continue reading...

Review from Deadly Storm

April 8, 2018
From: Deadly Storm
Published: April 7, 2018 

Zastav své kroky člověče! Roztáhni ruce a pohleď k nebi do korun stromů. Rozjímej, přemýšlej a nech na chvíli ten šílený svět daleko za sebou. Sleduji zvířata v pohybu, závidím těm, co mohou létat. Nasávám chladný vzduch. Krása, mráz, smrt. Znovuzrození. Pláč osamocených, tvář schoulená v náručí. Jednou tvé kamenné srdce pukne, uvidíš! Chce to jen čas.

Dostala se mi do ruky nová deska depresivců...

Continue reading...

Review from KNAC

April 8, 2018
From: KNAC
Published: April 4, 2018 

The province of Saskatchewan sits cleanly in the centre of Canada. As such, along with the other two prairie provinces of Alberta and Manitoba, Saskatchewan is totally landlocked. Possessed of astounding natural beauty, boasting lush flora and fauna to the north (and a few ice roads in winter) and an abundance of canola, potash, and suicidal deer to the south, Saskatchewan is a land of contrasts. It is at once a desolate barely habitable tundra ...

Continue reading...

Review from Toilet Ov Hell

April 3, 2018
From: Toilet Ov Hell
Published: April 1, 2018

“Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.”

Prairie doom. Something about that designation seems incredibly fitting; on the plains, as often as not only the wind is to be heard, only a stunted tree here and there to be seen, and the surroundings are identified more by absence than presence. Doom’s inherent vastness, then, may be the perfect accompaniment to this environment. It...

Continue reading...

Review from Angry Metal Guy

March 31, 2018
From: Angry Metal Guy
Published: March 31, 2018 

In 2004, a close friend of mine lost not one but both of his parents in the Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives. While I hope I will never experience tragedy as dramatic and profound as his, the impact reverberated throughout our small group, and to a comparatively infinitesimal degree, we shared in his loss. Without wanting to cheapen such sorrow, doom metal — particularly in its more extreme iter...

Continue reading...

Review from Metal Master Kingdom

March 31, 2018
From: Metal Master Kingdom
Published: March 29, 2018 

Like the cello that hums the introductory notes to “Isolation”—the opening track on Iris, the long awaited full-length sophomore release from Saskatchewan’s blackened doom lords, Altars Of Grief—I am hesitant.  Hesitant to commit words to the virtual page, for fear that they will be wholly inadequate and fail to do justice to the magnificence of Iris.

But, if you are willing to walk with me down a desolate prairie road ...

Continue reading...

Review from Metal Injection

March 22, 2018
From: Metal Injection
Published: March 22, 2018 

The question isn’t whether Altars of Grief’s sophomore record is good; it's a question of how good it is. Iris is a nigh-peerless construct of somber beauty and one of the greatest doom metal albums in years. That much is readily apparent after just an initial listen. Where should we begin? Should we discuss how Iris’ magnificent fusion of funeral doom and black metal perfectly complement one another while sounding entirely unl...

Continue reading...

Review from Ultraje

March 17, 2018
From: Ultraje
Published: March 16, 2018

Quando a história é tão emotiva quanto a própria música, então está tudo bem encaminhado. Do Canadá, os Altars of Grief apresentam em “Iris” uma ficção que pode ser a realidade de muitas famílias. Iris está afundada em vícios e doença, e nem o próprio pai consegue chegar perto da sua filha. Quando este percebe que nada mais há a fazer, entra no carro e vai embora, despistando-se mortalmente. O resto da história fala-nos d...

Continue reading...

Review from Dead Rheteric

March 17, 2018
From: Dead Rheteric
Published: March 15, 2018

What does it truly mean to be ‘heavy?’ Doom metal bands have often given us the proof that heaviness doesn’t have to necessarily link towards anger and frustration. Altars of Grief return with their second album, and the first release since their excellent 2015 split with Nachtterror, to explore the possibility of grief and sorrow being truly the heaviest of all emotions.

Iris is a concept album rooted in some rather weighty materi...

Continue reading...

 Released: March 21, 2018
500 Copies
Genre: Blackened Doom Metal