Altar of Oblivion – Grand Gesture of Defiance

There’s a lot of talk going around how Denmark’s Altar of Oblivion sound like a soon to retire Candlemass. Though they are retooling a similar traditional heavy metal/doom style as their Swedish counterparts, and yes, singer Meister der Töne at times resembles Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), mainly in his mid-range tone, Altar of Oblivion are far less Sabbath inspired and tend to lean into the heavy metal realm. Especially the guitar solos, which to me are one of the highlights of the album. Slow, thoughtful and melodious solowork really gives each track another dimension of class. Such tasteful guitar work should never go unnoticed and the quality thankfully spills over into the grand riffs and seriously “big” song structures that allow well considered chorus’ to truly shine and give each track a memorable leg to stand on. With such a focus on powerful songwriting, you really need a singer that is versatile and able to sing in key. Meister der Töne’s singing is indeed dynamic as he can swing between nearly every register, with his strength being the aforementioned mid-range, BUT I can’t help hear and become annoyed by out of tune vocal passages that creep in and plague him throughout the bulk of “Grand Gesture of Defiance”. He’s not always way off the mark, for his style does fit well with the timber of AoO’s musicianship, but it is just enough to sound “wrong” on occasion as he reaches to place words within a melody outside of his comfort zone. Honestly, the more I have spun this album, and you will as well due to the excellent hooks and well produced trad metal on display, the less of an annoyance this has become. If the guy would just go in and get some training, he’s not far off from tightening up his delivery and finding his true voice. Having said that, “Grand Gesture of Defiance” has been a nice change of pace, and even though Altar of Oblivion aren’t quite at the level to step into the void soon to be vacated by Candlemass (do you really think Leif is going to let that band go? Me either!), they can write a damn fine batch of songs appealing to fans of the genre. This being my first taste of what AoO can offer, I will be looking back in their catalog to see what I have missed. -Marty
Shadow Kingdom Records

~ by martyworm on September 30, 2012.

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