01. Flesh Bound Text
02. Of Decimus Divine
03. Vile Remnants
04. Ancient’s Retribution
05. Mutilated Marvel
06. Into Oblivion
08. Throne of Maggots
[Unique Leader Records]
Metal has become over-saturated with sound-alike bands writing music that copies their idols rather than creating something fresh. There are only so many notes that you can play on a guitar after all. Where Alterbeast have innovated, rather than imitated, is by picking and choosing the finer moments of technical death metal and interweaving them into a tapestry, splattered by the razor sharp elements of melodic death. Thus we have Immortal, their debut which will no doubt become a point of reference for countless acts of the future.
The opening track of any metal album today has to make people stand up and notice. In an age where the ‘back’ button on a browser is there just waiting to be clicked, Alterbeast have ensured that no one is going to simply pass them by. The hiss and crackle that opens ‘Flesh Bound Text’, with its silent movie-esque piano and string combo, builds an immediate aura which is quashed by the unapologetic entry of the ‘beast themselves. Much like ‘Ancient’s Retribution’, the opener contains a twisted marriage of melody and technicality that shoots right out of the traps, almost sucking the oxygen out of the room only for it to come to a brief standstill until the next track begins the assault again.
Extended passages of melody and harmonizing guitars are the perfect foil for the titanic slamming moments found in ‘Mutilated Marvel’ and the short but destructive ‘Into Oblivion’. The guitar pairing of Cornell and Lamb engage in riff and lead jousting that will leave even the most insatiable guitar nerd in awe of the classical-shred-meets-nouveau-face-melting solo in ‘Vile Remnants’. Alongside some downright impressive bass work and one of the more unrelenting drum attacks from any metal album this year (even you, Behemoth!), Alterbeast more than prove their instrumental prowess. This is all wrapped up beautifully by the varied team of engineers and producers who were involved in creating Immortal—especially the guitar and bass tracking by Ryan “Bart” Williams, ex-bass wizard and producer/necromancer of The Black Dahlia Murder.
When this record gets heavy, it gets really goddamn heavy. Tremolo picking makes way for swamp deep Morbid Angel-inspired riffing with guitar sweeps and flourishes stabbing through. Even in the busiest of technical passages, when one is in awe of the double guitar and bass noodling, there is no respite from an imminent breakneck change of tempo. The only downside of this is that there is no track on Immortal that has a chance to really grow on the listener, who is constantly quaking like a cube of ice in a cocktail shaker. A Bloody Mary or a Zombie, depending on preference.
Forgetting the merciless aural attack and some mixed opinions on the vocal delivery throughout some of the album, Alterbeast have stirred the pot, plunged a claw in and come out with one of the most exciting death metal debuts in recent history. Considering their hometown of Sacramento could not be further from the icy fjords of Scandinavia, their skills and creativity have crafted an unholy “beast” of a record which plays like a long forgotten demon wreaking havoc on us mere mortals. With the ‘beast retreating back to its subterranean lair in the closing fade out of ‘Throne Of Maggots’, hopefully it will not be long before it returns, regenerated and ready to inhale souls at the rate of Immortal.
Alterbeast’s Immortal gets…