IRON ALTAR – Promethean

IRON ALTAR – Promethean



One of the albums I’ve been meaning to get to reviewing in 2023 but something always got in the way was the 2nd (after the independently released Pillars Of Blood²⁰¹⁸) full length by the Scottish progressive metalcorers Iron Altar, Promethean²⁰²³ released on September 29th via Trepanation Recordings. Despite it’s relatively short length for a progressive album, (43:27 at 9 tracks) Promethean²⁰²³ is an achievement comparable to the best of Misery Signals (arguably the best metalcore band ever) and but, interestingly, it’s riddled with genuine death metal (Mortality), thrash (Hunted) and groove (Miasmic Intuition) overtones, (while having an overall post-metal feel to it) and when I say “genuine” I mean that those bits sound so particular genre it could in each case be taken as its respective representative. In a very real sense, Iron Altar has created an album that defies genre categorization (see the number of tags under the review) and that is a rare and great achievement alone.

Andrew Callis (vocals), Neil Mathers (guitars), Daniel Drever (guitars), Linz Conway (drums) and Jamie Scougall (bass) know how to write riveting emotional heavy metal laced with hardcore structure, therefore, in their case, the genre metalcore should definitely be stylized METALcore because this album crashes like Biohazard’s legendary magnum opus State Of The World Address¹⁹⁹⁴ or even Machine Head’s debut Burn My Eyes¹⁹⁹⁴ the two signposts which also bring False Gods to mind, but, if I were to compare it to just one record, it would be Gojira’s From Mars To Sirius²⁰⁰⁵. All the tracks, except for the short instrumental (Shanidar) are all over the place yet faithfully maintain the core verse and chorus structure, the best examples including the favorite “Mortality”, with a mighty forebodingly melodic Immolation bit toward the end (that growl “paaaain” so Ross Dolan), the fantastic “Megalith” evocative of God Forbid’s “The Lonely Dead” (but, really, anything the New Jerseyans recorded from 2004 to 2013), the supercatchy Biohazardy “Cataclysmic Imprint” and the Panteraic and Lamb Of Godly (stylings of “Omerta) “Miasmic Intuition” (receding like Pantera’s “I’m Broken”), but the other tracks don’t fall below 5/6 mark except for the good but somewhat comparatively paling in comparison “The End”, which definitely has a potential but hardly deserves the honor of the opening salvo, besides, it’s completely obliterated by the furious “Hunted”. I like how they skilfully go from fast to slow without giving me a headache, anger and sadness at once, my two favorite emotions in metal. Unlike most of the time I deal with interludes/instrumentals, I find “Shanidar” an actual worthy track but I’m not sure it needed to be the last but one track as the transition between it and the closing “Disruptor” Fear Factorish “Primal Rites” is a bit awkward. It seems it could have been better served after the Ulceratian “Path To Empyrean”, evenly dividing the record into 2 4 track sections and as a transition to more melodic pastures.

Any way you slice it, Promethean²⁰²³ is one hell of a record, showing that that metal can fit hardcore like a glove and proving that that kind of energy is what saved metal from untimely demise in the fin de siècle of the XX Century. Iron Altar definitely has a 6/6 record in their loins, it’s only a matter of patience.

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