Altar of Betelgeuze – Darkness Sustains the Silence
Finland fucking does it again. What is it about that country, where so much worthy Metal emanates like the cold rays of a dying sun? Someone please tell me, I may emigrate there if this keeps up. Back on topic…
Let me begin by saying, out of all the ‘extreme’ Metal genres, I’m most picky about my Doom, as it takes more than your standard down-tuned variety of riff-drudgery to move my widening, grey-haired ass. Often I bypass piles of the stuff before I stumble upon something worth writing about at all (good or bad) – but Darkness Sustains the Silence has the value I seek. Vocalist/bassist Matias Nastolin’s death vocals spew out over the Cathedral-esque guitar lines with a passion in perfect alignment with other death/doomsters, but contain an extra fiery seam of energy his fellow forlorn barkers lack. Backing him, Vocalist/guitarist Olli “Otu” Suurmunne’s clean voicings comprise the stoner elements that are also an integral part of the band’s pallette – and though I like very little of that less-dark genre, his timbre and vibrato remain strong and in key while sailing atop A.o.B’s molten riff mires, and do not degenerate into any classic rock skullduggery. That being said, up-tempo moments do reside here; however, theirs are far more reminiscent of classic Metal/Thrash than anything else (the title track being a perfect example of their diversity). Both vocal styles succeed mainly due to Altar of Betelgeuze’s use of catchy, raging vocal rhythyms that incorporate a good helping of staying power.
And what of the other instruments? Unlike many Doom bands, the six-strings of Altar of Betelgueze aren’t the main source of the album’s low-end; on Darkness Sustains the Silence, as with Sabbathian gods of old, Nastolin’s bass (as it should) fills the appropriate frequencies comprising the leftmost side of the EQ, while still having a distorted clang that takes its rightful place right up front in the mix. Aleksi Olkkola drums tick by like reliant clockwork, maintaining the head-nods and tempo changes professionally without any distracting, unnecessary flash that would clog the doomy proceedings.
From the cover art, to the asphalt-laying/steamroller death doom, to the weed-saturated pitch-singing, Altar of Betelgeuze have managed to create a Doom/Death/Stoner Metal album that honors all three subgenres while giving each their own Finnish stamp and style. The album drops in a couple of weeks, so combat your post-New Year’s hangover with this slab of sleepy-eyed heaviness. -Jim
~ by cliftonium on December 18, 2013.