Thursday, January 24, 2013
Altar Of Oblivion - Grand Gestures Of Defiance
Don't you love it when you get your hands on an album without any preconceived ideas at all. You have no idea what it's going to sound like and the band is of course completely unknown to you. Then the second the album starts to spin you're totally sold. Grand Gesture Of Defiance by Altar Of Oblivion from Denmark, is such an album. We're talking doom and heavy metal and I absolutely love it!
Like most bands with an air of doom in their music write about fear, despair and desolation and Altar Of Oblivion are no different. The twist that separates them from the others is that they utilize war for their narratives instead of the more traditional occult and fear-of-god themes most doom bands have. And veering off like that definitely works to their advantage. Also the symbiosys between doom and heavy metal clearly sets them apart. The music is mainly kept at a mid-tempo level throughout which brings out the horrors of war perfectly. There's no need for machine-gun speed as the band searches for the human aspect of being stuck in a raging battle. You're cold, alone, miserable and immensely unsure if you will be alive 5 minutes from now.
Let's not forget the excellent singer Mik Mentor. The desperation and anguish in his voice is ideal for these songs and he is the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle that makes Grand Gesture Of Defiance such a great album. And the interplay between the music and Mentor's voice brings out the spirit and atmosphere in such a way that I feel I'm out there on a WWII battlefield fighting for my life. Although the song that truly displays the strongest emotional aspect is the acoustic instrumental The Smoke-Filled Room. After three vocal tracks the softness and calmness of this song simply floors me. Being the middle track and completely different from the others makes it even more haunting. To me I believe it comes down to a feeling of peace while dying but of course I don't know if that's what the band strives for. That's what the song means to me though and regardless how I perceive it, it is beautiful!
Being such a standout album all songs are great but there are always one or two pieces that are above the rest. I've already mentioned one, The Smoke-Filled Room, the other being The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams. All the things that Altar Of Oblivion represent on Grand Gesture Of Defiance are included in this song. So if you are unsure about them, which you shouldn't be wave rider, this is the song you should check out first. At the same time you won't do yourself or the band any justice listening to only one song...be brave and take in the whole album because you will love it!