Altarage - Endinghent (2017)Release ID: 8596
When I first got into death metal the major appeal was that I had found something that had broken music. Not in a nonsensical kind of a way, as in I deemed it to be little more than silly noises. No, this was the loss of all traditional norms that I had grown to know about music, and I genuinely felt like I had found a new home. Morbid Angel’s debut record is probably the best example I can use to evidence the above. There is a quote in the booklet/liner notes of the of one of versions of it that I own that says, “One man’s insanity is another man’s genius and from these altars of madness the heretic rejoices in things unseen”, and I cannot thing of a better way to sum up death metal for me.
As the years have flown by, that original distortion that death metal provided me has continued to grow to the point where some albums that are tagged as being death metal sound very much to me like death metal itself has been broken now (the irony). I will not pretend to love every diversion, off-shoot, and infusion that death metal takes but provided it retains some elements of conventional death metal that I usually can cope well with most albums I come across.
Altarage are one of the few modern death metal bands that I would buy anything they release cold (I have discussed this elsewhere on here before). Whilst they do not possess a flawless discography, they represent a whole new level of horror in death metal that few can rival. Inevitably, comparisons with Portal instantly crop up which I absolutely get and have no issue with. However, in keeping with the theme of things evolving and developing, Altarage in their current guise are way ahead of Portal in terms of their ability to retain such a robust sense of structure to their brand of chaotic and squally death metal.
Endinghent is full of big riffs that go beyond the busy, stabbing style that they share with the Australian maestros. If anything, Altarage exemplify here a dialled back version of this chaos. This is an album where disorder is given structure and boundaries, still allowing it to do its work perfectly well enough but unafraid to put it on the back burner when the need for some crushing riffs is identified to firmly put the death metal stamp on things. The blackened element that I hear described around Altarage does not really ring true for me and although the odour of black is in the air it never settles at any point. Listening to this record for the first time in a while it is closer to the atmospheric death metal of Ulcerate (minus swathes of technical prowess).
Although not a release that I would consider to be their magnum opus, Endinghent is an interesting listen and an important step in the evolution of the band as they take the opportunity to apply some control to the frenzied attack that was their debut and give themselves a little breathing space before becoming an absolute tour de force on subsequent releases.