Russian Circles’ music can be described as sounds of experiences, sounds-soundtracks of never directed films. Although an instrumental band, the songs speak out for themselves, being completely clear like old stories written in paper.
I have to tell you that I can listen to almost every kind of metal. But doom, I’m all for it! So when I’m given the chance to check out a doom metal band that I haven’t checked before, I get quite excited. And now, it was time for Altar Of Oblivion. What we have here is a quintet hailing from Denmark. They formed in 2005 and released their first full-length in 2009. “Grand Gesture Of Defiance” is the follow-up, and from what I read, it received rather good reviews.
Well, I tend to disagree a bit. I’m not going to lie to you. From the first minute, I knew that it was not going to be an enjoyable listen. But first things first. Altar Of Oblivion is an epic doom metal band, in the likes of Witchfinder General and Memory Garden, with a bit of Candlemass. Their music lies between doom and heavy; it’s melodic and quite catchy. In this album, Altar Of Oblivion show what they showed before. The change that will take them to the next step is not there yet. The guitar-work of Martin Mendelssohn is very good on the whole, and clean. The riffs you will find are slow and simple, but not crushing in a Black Sabbath way. This isn’t necessarily negative, but it takes away the much needed power from the songs. And the fact that the rhythm section doesn’t stand out as much as you’d wish it to, only adds to it. What Altar Of Oblivion have taken extra care of are the melodies, which are much more intricate, yet easy to remember. I tell you this; all the songs are really, really, catchy. Simply for that, Altar Of Oblivion deserve some credit. And because of these clever compositions, the album flows smoothly.
And what about the tracks? “Grand Gesture Of Defiance” starts with “Where Darkness Is Light”, a mid-tempo track that is the closest to doom, with a powerful chorus. “The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams” has an a capella opening and is easily the best song here. “In The Shadow Of The Gallows” drops the tempo a bit, coming back to power in the middle with an Iron maiden riff. “The Smoke Filled Room” is an interlude with some heavy metal moments, but it doesn’t give out any emotion. “Sentences To Absentia” on the other hand, is a lot heavier, with some nice solos and a bass line that comes to the front. “Final Perfection” closes the album with its keyboard intro, interesting vocal lines and grandiose atmosphere.
By now, perhaps you have understood that I’m talking about an average release, but nothing too bad. So, what really put me off were the vocals. As many times as I listened to “Grand Gesture Of Defiance” I couldn’t change my mind about them. They are bad. Mik Mentor’s voice lacks emotion and, above all, range. In a couple of songs, he tries to do falsettos and he gives the impression that his voice is losing power. What’s worse is that this album is mixed that way so that the vocals stand out above all. You can get the idea.
So, “Grand Gesture Of Defiance” doesn’t accomplice what it’s meant to. Altar Of Oblivion need to try a bit harder. And I am convinced that these songs would sound a lot better with a different singer. In the end, this album didn’t do it for me. If you like the band, give it a try; if not, it will definitely not change your opinion about them.
|Track List||Line Up||01. Where Darkness Is Light
02. The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams
03. In The Shadow Of The Gallows
04. The Smoke Filled Room
05. Sentenced In Absentia
06. Final Perfection
|Christian Nørgaard – Bass
Mik Mentor – Vocals
Allan Larsen – Guitar
Martin Meyer Mendelssohn Sparvath – Guitar
Thomas Wesley Antonsen – Drums