Ancient Altar envision the end of humanity at hands of greed, religion on charred ‘Dead Earth’

Ancient AltarThe world seems to be at a weird point. Look at the way people treat others with differing views than theirs. In our country, people looking to run the place even have taken stands against people whose lifestyles differ from theirs, and people have taken a backseat to weaponry when it comes to pecking order of people’s concerns. It feels like the beginning of the end, and maybe it is.

Maybe it’s a bit over the top to say it feels like the world is crumbling apart. A lot of what I listed above only affects one country, so maybe that’s being a little narrow-sighted, but it seems like tensions are building. That brings us to Ancient Altar’s new record “Dead Earth,” a loose concept record that envisions a world torn apart by corruption, greedy leaders, war, and the oppression of religion. Funny, but all of the things they tackle on this massive four-track mammoth are hot topics right now, and they are things that are dividing us against one another. Ancient Altar’s vision eventually has a degree of positivity to it, but it’s not until damaging, disastrous events take place in order to give the world a new start. It’s scary to think about because it just might be what it takes.

Ancient Altar coverAncient Altar only have been a band for two years now, but they’re already got two full-length records to their credit. Their self-titled first record dropped last July, and already they’re back with a whole new collection. The band—bassist/vocalist Scott Carlson, guitarist/vocalist Barry Kavener, guitarist Jesse Boldt, and drummer Etay Levy—have a nasty, punishing blend of doom that is unquestionably heavy and can be abrasive. At times, their stampeding can remind on High on Fire, but they also have some mind-numbing and scorched-earth elements that keep you awake, alert, and looking for the next burst.

“Leader, Liar” has a pretty pointed title, and it shouldn’t be too hard to read into who’s being ground into the coals here. Whirs and drone wash in and create a fury, while the guitars rampage everywhere, with the doom hammers dropping hard. The vocal delivery is thick and gruff, as the band trudges forward like they’re coming to challenge the forces of evil, and the screaming really starts to stretch out just as the guitars heat up and burn anew. There are some clean vocal callouts that deliver desperation, while the back end of the song speeds up and rages to a finish. “Albion” starts soaring, with the guitars taking on a sun-caked feel and the growls wrenching forcefully. Some classic metal moments slip in, injecting glory before the carnage returns. Organs then flood the scene, as a psychedelic trip takes hold, and as the song winds down, the wails churn and the track ends in a smothering cloud of smoke.

The title cut opens gurgling and wailing away, with the growling reaching deep inside for its venom and doomy thrashing leading the way. The track then reaches hyperdrive, pouring devastation in blinding order and the tempo creating mental grease fires. The riffs are meaty and noxious, and this awesome track never relents with its fiery intensity. Crushing 12:49 closer “Void” opens with buzzing riffs dive bombing you and the vocals delivering blistering thunder. Clean singing emerges, snaking over desert-dry melodies that eventually writhe in the scorching sun, but then the pace changes and the terrain gets dusty and gritty. Acoustic guitars slip in, giving the track a rustic bend, yet out of that the guitars blow down the doors and quiver with the melodies. The vocals crush bodies, slow-driving madness eats away at your psyche, and the track comes to a bludgeoning, punishing conclusion.

Hopefully people get their shit together and don’t bring about the end of the world, but if they do, perhaps Ancient Altar’s tales will give us some kind of idea of what we’d face. Doomsday scenarios have been a part of metal for years, but “Dead Earth” is a tale that’s far more tangible because it really could happen. It’s a mucky, drubbing, savage portrait, and despite its morbid imagery, it’s a hellish tale that will provide a burning rush with every visit.

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