Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Avant-Garde Extreme Metal
Release Date: April 23, 2021
For Fans Of: Portal, Abyssal, Infernal Coil
The metal community is obsessed with genres and sub-genres. Be it heavy, thrash, death, doom, black, sludge, or any of the countless others, debates rage on and on about which band fits where and which sub-genre reigns supreme. Thankfully, for those of us who could care less about which sub-genre a band falls into, there is a band that comes along every now and then that bucks the sub-genre trend and pushes the boundaries of what metal can be. Altarage is one of those bands. Defying genre and shrouding themselves in mystique, little is known about the band outside of their Spanish roots.
Often thought of as a Portal clone, Altarage burst onto the scene with their amazing debut Nihil in 2016 and followed that up not a year later with the equally impressive Endinghent. Where both albums made an impact, they did little to separate Altarage from the Portal comparisons. In 2019 the band returned with The Approaching Roar, an album that didn’t quite live up to the quality of the first two, but saw the band setting themselves apart from the pack and silencing those who were calling them a clone of other bands. Now in 2021, the Spaniards return, yet again, with perhaps their most original and sounding album to date.
From the jump, Succumb, makes it clear that Altarage are not here to compromise. Opening track, Negative Arrival, sets Succumb up to be just as filthy as anything in the bands catalogue and steps the dissonance up to a level that is unmatched in the genre. The album is packed to the brim, at over an hour long, with songs of an amorphous nature. You might start with a song intro that makes you think that the song is going to have a death metal vibe, then thirty seconds later there is tremolo picking and blast beats, as you would find on a second wave black metal record, and just after you settle into that the song flips to a drone passage, a catchy thrash-like riff, a hardcore breakdown or just some flat out weirdness that you have never heard before. Most of the time this all happens in a song that is about three or four minutes in length. This could easily be overwhelming, or messy but Atarage are able to make these sonic shifts in a way that feels natural and demands the listener’s attention.
I would be remiss to neglect talking about the last track on the album, and I think that every Succumb review out there will make mention of this song. Devorador De Mundos, is an epic and droning dirge at twenty-one minutes in length. After eleven tracks that are completely claustrophobic and outright horrific (in all the right ways), the album closer feels like a reprieve. It’s like you have been drowning for forty minutes and Devorador De Mundos is the opportunity to come up for air. It is no less fear inducing than the rest of the record but it serves as a reflective period to process the punishing experience that you were just subjected too.
Succumb is the sonic equivalent of a nightmare, and I absolutely loved it. It is, however, that it is a difficult listen and I don’t know that everyone will have the same positive experience that I had listening to this album. Additionally, Succumb, or any Altarage album for that matter, is not made for the casual metal fan. If you got a friend who says shit like “Five Finger Death Punch is the greatest metal band around”, then this is not the band for them. You have to really be into the grossest and dirtiest shit that metal has to offer. If that’s your jam, then this is the album for you. It’s damn near perfect from my perspective and I can’t stop listening to it. Every time I put the album on I find new things to love and this, to me, is the mark of an album that I will continue to return to for years to come. Succumb is a step forward for Altarage and is the best album they have put out to date. This album is a masterpiece and is getting my first perfect score since I started doing these reviews.
Rating: 10 / 10
- Negative Arrival
- Magno Evento
- Drainage Mechanism
- Watcher Witness
- Fair Warning
- Vour Concession
- Devorador de mundos
Total Playing Time: 1:03:16