This EP from LA-based sludge/doom band Ancient Altar, recorded in 2016, sees them pushing back at the limitations of the genre by creating something a touch more intricate than their previous releases.
Comprising of two ten-minute-plus songs, there is a lot here to take in on first listen. The first of the two tracks, ‘Cosmic Surge’ opens in a moody, sludge fashion with guttural vocals rumbling just below surface. By the seven-minute mark, rousing guitar solos are creating an almost uplifting mood – think Pallbearer at their most epic.
Second track ‘Foie Gras’ opens with a thick, down-tuned riff before drums and the epic ethereal vocals take centre stage. Fans of 2015’s Dead Earth may favour this track, as it has the loosest feel of the two and is initially more melodic, evolving naturally over its sprawling thirteen-minute-plus length, with the sections adorned with blistering guitar solos having an almost jam session feel to them. It’s certainly telling that the band let the songs evolve in a very organic way during the writing and recording, as overall they feel much more experimental than those on Dead Earth. The drawn out, slowed down nature of ‘Foie Gras’ is the sound of a band pushing a song to its limits.
Since the recording of this EP, the band have gone through some line-up changes, and are now a three-piece since the departure of guitarist Jesse Boldt as well as also now having Geoff Summer behind the drum kit. It will be interesting to see if they continue in a similar experimental vein to this EP or whether in fact what we have here is the end of an era rather than a new beginning. Either way, whichever direction they choose next is guaranteed to be interesting.
Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras is out April 19th. Purchase here.
Words: Adam Pegg