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Altar of Oblivion – ‘Barren Grounds’ (EP Premiere)


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We’ve discussed the idea of band/album/genre overload many times before, but mostly in reference to the general mediocrity of musical output since metal’s third wave of popularity crested. The other issue generated by “too much music, too little time” is the mirror opposite: genuinely great releases getting lost in the shuffle. Nobody – fans or critics – will ever have the time to listen to everything that comes their way.

Consuming new music is a lot like playing fantasy football; stick to your reliable standbys, roll the dice on some new guys, and hope for the best. Altar Of Oblivion are the Mike Wallace of the newer doom scene, you’ve seen them do well before and should be worth investing your time, even if it seems like no one else knows about them.

The Danish band’s upcoming EP Barren Grounds serves as a great introduction, with several tracks of solid, epic doom in the Candlemass/Solitude Aeternus tradition. “State Of Decay” is laden with memorable hooks right out of the gate, providing an excellent counterpoint to singer Mik Mentor’s vocal flourishes. Mentor is one of doom metal’s best-kept secrets; his vocals have the authority of a Karl Simon matched to booming, Messiah Marcolin-like peaks (minus the histrionics).

Short segue “Serenity” goes all Golden Earring with flutes and whispered vocal samples before giving way to the title track, where lead guitarist Martin Mendelssohn gets to stretch his legs with a classic solo. “Lost” closes Barren Grounds on a somber note with Mentor’s anguished voice floating over subtle synth work and an isolated guitar. It definitely owes a debt to Sabbath (“Solitude”) and Down (“Jail”). This is Altar Of Oblivion’s first release since the much-heralded 2012 full-length Grand Gesture Of Defiance, itself preceded by an excellent EP. If they can keep that cycle going, one won’t have to dig to find them.

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Barren Grounds Will be released 9/30 via Shadow Kingdom Records. Follow Altar of Oblivion on Facebook

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