ALTAR OF OBLIVION – Barren Grounds (EP)
Coming from the statistically happiest country in the world, Denmark, the epic doom quintet does not let on that fact as their music is angry and sad at the same time. Mik Mentor’s vocals have that same melancholy that Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) has, as if life was not worth living, howbeit perfect for the instrumental background. The EP is very short (18:12) and out of the four tracks, only two are doom proper, since one is a sort of intro to the title track and the closer "Lost" is an acoustic ballad.
The opener, "State of Decay", is the best track on the release, a Black Sabbath/My Dying Bride inspired dynamic piece that almost turns doom/death at the end, with Martin Meyer Mendelssohn Sparvath’s powerful riffs bolstered byC. Nørgaard’s booming bass and excellent drums of Allan B Larsen and Thomas Wesley Antonsen (yes, there’s two drummers). The second doom track, the title cut is slower and some of it reminds me of Soundgarden for some reason while some of the melodic fills of Dark Tranquillity, with the end recalling Paradise Lost, so a good mix, overall.
Altar of Oblivion has been around for 11 years and is a strong purveyor of the style. Although "Barren Grounds" is a lot tamer than their last album, "Grand Gesture Of Defiance", judging from these three songs, the stakes are still high for the new album.