Altar of Oblivion – Burning Memories (From the Vaults)Friday, 9th June 2023
This Danish heavy/doom metal act returns with a five-song EP Burning Memories – previously under the microscope to the delight of this scribe back in 2019 for The Seven Spirits album. Looking from a historical perspective, these songs were recorded in 2016 around the time of their Barren Grounds EP – finally seeing the light of day as the band prepare to record/release the next album for 2024. Those who love epic doom with a bevy of 70’s/80’s influences will once again shiver at the aural offering placed before you.
When looking at the tracks on display, there are three vocal-driven cuts plus two moody instrumental offerings that set a picturesque, diverse outlook on where these musicians want to go musically. The opening title song for example contains a relatively up-tempo spirit, a bright chorus full of interesting higher melodies, plus a great mix of driving rhythms / keyboards to keep the toes tapping, hands clapping, and evoke the best visions of Mercyful Fate meets Draconian Times-era Paradise Lost. Conversely “Manic Masquerade” has a heavier spirit, featuring some killer, varied lead breaks, fantastic transitional stop/start musical movements, and appropriately eerie vocal melodies from Mik Mentor. And of course, what epic doom effort wouldn’t be complete without a Candlemass-esque number like “Through the Night”, it’s slow churning guitar parts plus crawling tempo aligned for the best slow headbanging one could ever want in this style. The two instrumentals “Cosmic Chaos” and “Radiation” give the listener that left-field aural reprieve, just with exotic, psychedelic, or outer universe touches.
Altar of Oblivion may continue to be a cult-classic status band rather than break through to heights that Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, or Candlemass have achieved – and that’s okay. Burning Memories is another quick hitting product that sets the stage for the next record in anticipation for greatness – steady as the ship goes.