Malignant Altar – Realms of Exquisite Morbidity Review

Like a cesspool creamsicle, Malignant Altar seep out of Texas with their debut full-length, Realms of Exquisite Morbidity. Proud members of the “Morbid Angel coated in shit, sludge and tentacles” mini-genre, they glissade up alongside other poo-encrusted acts like Decrepisy who believe Incantation needed more murk and muck in their formative years. Over the course of 33 minutes, Malignant Altar do their damndest to force-feed you all the medical waste and filth they can as they gleefully cavort through the unspeakably foul gunk of some godforsaken cavern of inequity. If I’m scaring you with a good time, that’s because much of what gets thrown like fresh gorilla biscuits is well-executed and righteously gruesome. In a year with its share of quality death metal, this won’t make many lists, and in fairness, there isn’t anything especially new happening here, but the crucial ingredients are well prepared and entirely capable of inducing a nasty ear infection. Once more into the feculence!

The album opens with mournfully melodic bell chimes and after that, melody is deader than Kevin Spacey’s acting career. “Channeling Impure Apparitions” takes over from there and sledgehammers you with wet, slithering riffs and sub-basement death gurgles. There’s an obvious Morbid Angel influence to the riffs and you can almost hear “God of Emptiness” echoing in the song’s mucous membranes at several junctures. Rancid bits of Incantation and Immolation appear along the way for added awful, with pacing mostly kept to a ghastly mid-tempo grind. The riffs are hideous and the overall package is pleasing in a repellant and nauseating way. “Usurping the Pantheon Crown” keeps the same template but adds aggressive thrashy segments that provide excitement and echo old school deathers like Massacre and Asphyx. Riffing is often minimalist and chuggy but it’s effective and carries tremendous heft.

The five proper tracks are all good, toying with the same basic mid-tempo plod but managing to keep it ugly and interesting. “Ceremonial Decapitator” features the most Azagthothian of twisting riffs and things feel ominous and crushing with little moments of Slayer-esque riff explosions to keep you alert and edgy. Things take a digression into slower chugs for the final 2 minutes which puts a drag on the song’s momentum, but for the most part, it’s still a success. Closer “Rite of Krasue” wanders into Bolt Thrower combat riffage and the vocals take on cartoonishly staccato patterns at times, but it’s so revolting and slimy it grows on you like atomic herpes. There’s a charming rawness to everything, but there’s some bloat too. Several tracks could lose 1-2 minutes and be the better for it, and a few more shifts in tempo would elevate what is a mostly mid-paced frolic through the septic tanks. There’s also a short interlude that does little beyond pad the album length enough to avoid dreaded EP status.

Beau Beasley (ex-Oceans of Slumber) and Joshua Bokemeyer (Church of Disgust) impress with a vast collection of gruesome riffs and mammoth chugs that feel burdensome and threatening. For an album so heavily based around plodding, crawling leads, they manage to make things feel just different and varied enough to prevent tedium from hitting. The eerie, minimalist solos are another nice touch and keep the atmosphere stuck at “lurking dread” levels. Drummer Dobber Beverly (Oceans of Slumber) is the secret weapon here, providing interestingly busy fills even as the guitars lurch like exhausted mammoths. I often found myself fixating on what he was doing in the backline and he provides a crucial jolt of energy no matter how slow-moving the rest of the song is. A nod also must be given to Wilson Prevette’s vocals. A proud alumnus of the Craig Pillard school of throat destruction, his low-register grunting and retching are endearing. At times he sounds like he’s hocking up a tremendously stubborn death loogie (see “Rite of Krasue”), which is gross but amusing. A talented crew all around.

There’s enough malodorous, moldy atmosphere on Realms of Exquisite Morbidity to keep most death heads enthralled despite a few unsightly warts and abscesses. It’s not breaking new ground, but the earth it does move is full of worms and rotting flesh. Malignant Altar have talent and potential and based on this outing, I’ll be willing to jump back in the cadaveric fluid on future releases. Get a whiff of this.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent
Releases Worldwide: December 10th, 2021

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