Altarage‘s debut turned quite a few tar-covered heads, each new adherent drawn in by its tendrils of sticky ooze, a concoction of lo-fi hideousness that languished in the bogs somewhere between Portal and Teitanblood. Not the most original of albums, but it pounded a chord for metalheads oppressed by melody and clean production. I liked Nihl, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Sure it was brutal: brutal enough, even – but I found inconsistencies in it that poked streams of clarity through its clotted gutters. Occasionally there would come about a riff that just seemed too… metal. Some riff that was obvious or simplistic that reeked of war metal’s tired tropes and interrupted the album’s slow vomit.

I’m pleased to report that Endinghent, contrary to expectations, vomits almost continuously. My issue with Nihl was its inability to sustain the impenetrable Portal-isms that make a good Portal record: the atonal riffing so suffocated under distortion that picking out melodic structure is a fool’s errand; the incessant blastbeats that seem to shift out of themselves like a Fraser spiral; the bass rubbing against a rubbery film of noise above it. Endinghent nailed the aesthetic this time, and so like any Portal album, its challenge is not convincing you of its seriousness, it’s keeping your attention.

Of course, that’s contingent on how heavily you’re willing to buy into the sound Endinghent produces. For many, it will be thunderous claptrap, completely nonsensical and superfluous. For others, it’s a 30-some minute fix of sweet black-tar hideousness. If your’e on the left hand side of that spectrum, it’s a good bet that this disfigured, dripping monolith of overcompressed barbarity will park itself in your eardrums long enough to start collecting bird shit. Tracks like “Incessant Magma” and “Weighteer” might plod along, but the slow speed is more than appropriate for those being dragged into their viscous wake. “Atmosphere” doesn’t cover what this album has – “atmosphere” isn’t meant to refer to a near-solid mass. A moment in this “atmosphere” would give you the lungs of a chain-smoking coal miner.

Altarage have thrown in some variety as well, like the incessant, twisted cascade of descending arpeggios that run for an entire minute in the beginning of “Rift.” Positioned in the middle of Endinghent, it breaks up the morass around it enough to make the second half of the album sound fresh(-ly putrid) again. The b-side of Endinghent doesn’t depart from the expected deluge, but it does bring out some of the album’s heaviest riffs, as in “Weighteer,” and its most spacious and pensive passages. The crawl-out at the end of “Barrier,” closes the album commendably, fading the colored world back into existence, wiping through the sticky grime of this lovecraftian nightmare – one which passed without a single blockheaded riff.

From a production standpoint, Endinghent hits the nail in the head as well. It’s suffocating without sounding lo-fi and comfortable (relatively) to listen to despite its volume and dense mix. Especially pleasing is the bass guitar’s place in the space. It’s definitely at the bottom of the heap, but always present and seemingly inextricable from the other sounds. It feels as if the bass lines are being produced through a symbiosis of the other instruments rather than by an independent instrument, which really glues the whole sonic package together.

In terms of consistency, Endinghent happily trumps Nihl, and if you were a fan of Altarage‘s debut, this will no doubt appeal to your scorched palate. Endinghent doesn’t overplay its hand, weaving enough interest to feel sufficiently opaque and to distance itself from your average overdistorted black/death hate letter. It’s not a daily listening companion, but an album worth keeping around for its sheer commitment to an aesthetic and its success in pulling it off.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: altarage.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/altarage
Releases WorldwideOctober 13th, 2017

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  • Thatguy

    It’s a more accessible portal – a portal into Portal…and many more bad puns.

    I do like this and will listen to it more often than Portal themselves, much as I do like the original.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      That guy has a pun in every port…al

      • Gross

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Please don’t report..al me

    • ssorg

      One of the things I admire about Portal is that it doesn’t quite sound like music.. . that is, it doesn’t sound beholden to conventions of song structure & what makes for good death metal (example: the way Moil slides drama-free right into Abysmill on Outre). It’s a stream of bilious aural vomit pouring nonstop from some unseen orifice. This, indeed, sounds like if Portal were music.

      • ssorg

        That said, it’s not a bad thing, and I’m going to give a proper listen and judge this on its own merits

  • Zach Ward

    Will have to check this out. Hoping to see a review of new bell witch. I’m certainly looking forward to giving it a solid listen.

    • Listening to it now actually…

      • Zach Ward

        I’m expecting it to be wonderful.. I just need an hour and a half of free time to give it a proper listen. Please let me know what you think.

    • It’s inbound.

      • Zach Ward

        Oh boy!! Hope it doesn’t ruffle my jimmies..

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I’m not reviewing it, but I’m of the opinion it’s fucking stunning.

      • wayne the devil

        I dug it also….but it will be a Dark Souls 3 album…lots of people will have a hard time making it to the end….

        • AshCinderSmoke

          God I love Dark Souls

          • wayne the devil

            Its love/hate with me. Took me three months to beat the giant tree…guh…..

          • AshCinderSmoke

            I’m on my 3rd play through right now. Favorite series of all time hands down

        • Dr. Wvrm

          I’m pretty sure I made a similar connection on Four Phantoms. The ambiance, the imagery, and yea, the difficulty getting to the finish all remind me of Dark Souls. Soulmass fucked up when they went straight death.

      • The Akerstache

        Well shit, I’m happy then. I’ve been looking forward to it, but an 80 minute song is next to impossible to pull off so I’ve been keeping my expectations as low as I could.

  • Goldicot

    My review:

    It turns out less-boring-Portal is still boring.

    Also, Gigan was boring.

    Listen to Abyssal.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      Solid review.

    • drug_genosh

      gigan? more like “not buy’n”

    • welyyt

      The ten minute tracks on the new Gigan are boring , but the rest of it is great stuff, and often better than the new Artificial Brain.

      • wayne the devil

        I dug the new Gigan album too but if ever a band needed a different producer…..they are not getting the most outta their sound I think….

        • welyyt

          I agree; time to call Colin Marston.

      • Goldicot

        New AB was also mediocre. I can’t say I found anything to like even post-ten-minute-mark on gigan.

    • Frost15

      My thoughts as of now. I never got into Portal. I have given them many chances and they never seem to do anything for me… Maybe that could change in the future, but as of today, this is still boring…

    • Wraith

      Impetuous Ritual.

    • Dnky666

      Or Hexis.

      Or Antiversum.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Hey Krony, you really knocked it out of the park with this line:

    It feels as if the bass lines are being produced through a symbiosis of the other instruments rather than by an independent instrument, which really glues the whole sonic package together.

    Awesome!

    • Kronos

      Thanks

  • herrschobel

    I was expecting a better score while reading the review … this sounds right up my alley … very good review as well !

  • The Unicorn
    • Thatguy

      Fuck yeah, penguins.

  • Eli Valcik

    The new Yellow Eyes just released. Its Fucking good.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      We didn’t get it :(

      • wayne the devil

        I just bought it. Thanks Eli V!!!!

        • Eli Valcik

          No problem, I just hope you’re having as much fun with it as I am, so far my favorite track is Shrillness in the Heated Grass.

          • wayne the devil

            I’m digging it. Also the Trenchgrinder you recommended is the shit too…

          • Eli Valcik

            Oh Hell yeah, thats my new workout music. It’s most likely making it to my end of the year list too.

      • Eli Valcik

        That sucks, did/will you get the new Midnight?

        • Dr. Wvrm

          Doesn’t look like it. I don’t know if anyone is working on it as an extracurricular.

  • Angelus

    This album makes a tarpit looks like crystaline clear water pool to me. Damn…it is dense af. Great review.

  • Dnky666

    Hexis have got monolithic slabs of heaviness all sewn up this year. Hexis don’t even bother changing chords. The only movement in their music is the drums. They are truly a force of nature.

  • You wot m8?

    I really liked their debut, and this is great, but I think the first one wins out in my book. Is Endinghent more consistent, and perhaps objectively overall better? Probably. However, I feel like the over-the-fucking-top great musical moments from Nihl are somewhat lacking. Endinghent will probably grow on me in time, but their debut holds my heart for now.