Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Altars - "Live on Pure Hate" (2011) [King of the Monsters Records]

Out of this whole black noise phenomenon that has made its presence known in the American scene these past few years, Altars has proven itself to be 1) the most fierce and 2) the most black metal out of the entire, sprawling scene. Though originally a more "blown-out and loud as all hell" sort of project, their split with Iranian black metal band Halla brought about a much more "crisp" approach to their style of black metal: still raw and angry but with a clear distinction between the razor-sharp guitars and new member Matthew Reis's (Teeth Collection) harsh, jarring noise. Altars's aggressive brand of raw black metal has ensured them releases on Youth Attack! Records, the notorious Occult Contemporary, Satan's Din, and their current home, King of the Monsters Records.

A mere 18 minutes in length, it is difficult to argue Live on Pure Hate's, which is not a live album, I might add, standing as Altars's first "full length" offering, but it is definitely the band's strongest and most easily listenable material to date. These extremely stripped down recordings only feature one or two (if they really feel like it) simple-yet-effective guitar tracks, drums, and noise to fill in the rest of the void. Don't look for bass; you won't find any here. With influences ranging from the punky side of things all the way to drone/doom, like the end of the otherwise blistering "The Great Ram," these five tracks show many sides of Altars that might have been lost in the disfiguring haze of previous material. This anxious, trebly, harsh, claustrophobic album, while undeniably pissed off, also has an air of Michael Gira-like misery, which is highlighted in the last track: a cover of Swans's "God Damn the Sun." Acoustic guitars? Definitely a curveball.

While I personally thing it's awesome, Live on Pure Hate is going to piss off Altars's main fan base who were already left confused by the split 7" with Halla. I guess most black "noise fans" can't process clear songwriting in conjunction with harsh noise as opposed to choosing one or the other. I think I've seen people complain on forums about the use of acoustic guitars, but they probably have never heard of Swans (WHICH SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A CRIME). My only complaint lies within the release length, though I guess it was time for Altars to release a "full-length" without it actually being long enough. In their defense, 18 minutes is MUCH longer than anything else they have ever released. The limited-to-100 special clear edition of the record might be sold out, but there are still a few "standard edition" copies left at King of the Monsters, and $12 for a 12 inch record isn't bad at all. That's like $1/inch!


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