Released: 2017, Transcending Obscurity Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Finland has been producing a sizeable amount of metal acts for decades now with a wide variety of styles permeating through to the wider metalsphere. Having reviewed several bands before from there, and seen bands such as Impaled Nazarene live, it's safe to say that Finland has a healthy scene. Altar of Betelgeuze were unheard of to me but as soon as I started listening to the album, I got another demonstration of the many branches stemming from the country's fertile ground.
Altar Of Betelgeuze formed in 2010 and have had two previous releases before 'Among The Ruins', with an EP released back in 2012 and 2014's full release 'Darkness Sustains The Silence'. The quartet from the capital Helsinki are no strangers to the art of producing hard and heavy material. The band mix several influences into their cauldron of music to produce a sound that, whilst being very familiar, is both highly agreeable and quite at odds to most sounds deemed remotely Finnish. They do hail from a country that is very supportive of the many other bands from neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe and it's not unheard of for metal bands to be very successful in the country's music charts.
The opening track 'The Offering' starts the album off with some dank fuzzy riffs packed with grooves.The impact of the combining forces is enough to seize hold of the body and send it through raging fits; the initial lead works seals the deal with your being bowing to the music's might. The death growls provided by bassist Matias are the icing to this poisonous cake. Again the lead work is used with purpose as it boosts the song to further heights. The second track 'Sledge Of Stones' brings Olli's clean vocals to the mix and suddenly we're taken back to 'Dirt' era Alice In Chains with doomy riffs and a clean vocal range that is highly reminiscent of Layne Staley's astounding range, albeit for Altar Of Betelgeuze, it sounds as if Jerry Cantrell is doing Layne's parts. Still Olli has a ridiculously good voice and serves the songs impeccably.
The album has only three tracks below the six minute mark and that includes the opening two tracks and the fourth track 'New Dawn' which is an absolute standout in terms of having true staying power. We get several styles merged into the longer tracks such as 'Absence Of Light' where the stoner and doomy riffs are built from some post-metal influences which keep the atmosphere as dark as is possible. The penultimate track 'Advocates Of Destruction' goes for the more crawling crush of bombastic riffs and pounding drums which are galvanised by Olli's unnerving clean vocals.
The final track serves as the longest, coming just short of ten minutes. Again we get the soft more post-metal affiliated guitar parts with tempered drumming opening the track. The song builds before the crunch kicks in, stomping mercilessly aided by some double kicks from Aleksi on the drums. The title track brings the death metal and stoner influences into a stormed frenzy for the first six minutes or so until the softer yet weighty instrumentation introduces an unsettling calm before the heavier forces align to bring the album to a close.
What Altar Of Betelgeuze have achieved with 'Among The Ruins' is a solid effort with seven deep, dark and powerful tracks that breaks down many of metals metal's essential elements and combines them to create an effective ensemble. There's stoic riffs, blasting drums, bold and brazen bass lines and transcendent and emotional vocals which mix with the deathly growls which serve to paint a deep and dark picture for the, at times, bleak and doomy gloom of the album's content. A solid effort indeed and another band to keep an ear and an eye out for.
Review by: PETE MUTANT