Review from No Clean Singing

Posted by Nick Skog on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 Under: English
From: No Clean Singing
Published: July 26, 2018 

We’ve filled this post to the brim with a whole variety of different death metal and grind metal acts, so why not shift gears just a bit and go for the full-blown and melodramatic doom of Regina, Saskatchewan’s very own Altars Of Grief?

Iris was hotly anticipated around these here parts and to put it bluntly, holy shit is it unfair just how good Iris is. Although there was some line-up shifting (and still kind of is, as the band solidify a full live line-up), you absolutely could not tell by the abject misery put forth on Altars Of Grief’s sophomore album. Iris is eight songs and nearly an hour’s worth of slow-moving, keyboard-heavy doom material that wallows in its sorrow and could cast a pall on just about any room — especially when considering the concept of the album.

The band’s formula hasn’t changed too much since we last heard from them. Instead, they iterate on what already works for them, and thus Iris feels like the most mature effort the band have put forth yet. With melodramatic and full-throated clean singing still in tow, Iris weaponizes its moments of misery so much that sometimes the standout songs feel like they shine so brightly simply because they aren’t the heavy trudge through the snow that Altars Of Grief are so goddamned good at. One of those we were actually able to premiere here at this site, and to be honest, it’s the one I was most excited about at the time.

“Desolation” is such a goddamned heavy song with a deep death metal undertone driving the song forward for the whole of its six minutes. As one of the shorter songs, it almost never lets up and just constantly wears the listener down with heavy moments and hammering riffs. Following the much slower and more familiar-feeling intro in the nine minutes of icy wandering that is “Isolation” is a tough act, but “Desolation” pretty much spells out that Iris is going to be a hell of a lot heavier this go-around, and that is something that weaves its way through the entire album — which is why the segment of “I’ll never forgive you for this!” that happens during the album’s titular song hits so goddamned hard. It’s difficult not to feel at least a little something when the final lyrics of “Iris” close out on “I’ll never let you take from me again!”.

Altars Of Grief‘s clean singing and ear for melody is almost second to none and fully on display here, each song manifesting a fierce adherence to finding the perfect segment of notes to evoke the cold and desolate fields that the band portray whenever they refer to themselves as ‘prairie doom metal’. Once you hit “Child Of Light”, Iris settles into familiar ground — new-found heaviness along for the journey. The song lengths become longer, the songwriting colder, and Altars Of Grief really stretch their doom muscles in the keyboard-laden back half, though the first double-bass drum hammering that appears in “Child Of Light” is for a fleeting moment absolutely glorious.

The real crusher of Iris arrives in its closing few songs, especially the sparse and miserable closing epic of “Becoming Intangible”. With its first half mostly clean-sung and the vocals isolated from the rest of the band, “Becoming Intangible” slowly builds and builds until its final breaking point when a full-blown blastbeat segment full of passionate howls explodes into play to help end the epic. The least reliant on lyrics — although the ‘waiting for the end again’ line’s constant refrain is likely to claw into people’s brains — “Becoming Intangible” walks a million miles on just songwriting alone, and is so atmospheric that when things finally close out in the calmness of Iris‘ “Epilogue” you feel slightly shaken up.

Iris is an absolutely fantastic release and one highly recommended.

In : English 

Tags: altars of grief  altars of grief iris  blackened doom metal  saskatchewan doom metal  prairie doom metal  death doom metal   

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