|Altar of Betelgeuse don’t belong to any precise genre, their doomy mix is
odd and personal.|
|A name is never innocent, and you can bet all your monthly salary that a band
spends a good deal of time to decide what name can herald the best the musical
path they choose to follow. Electric Wizard is a fine example of the
evocative power of a well-chosen name. ‘Altar of Betelgeuse’ evokes unearthly
landscapes and holds also a certain solemnity. Surpringly, the music matches
those perspectives, but it shouldn’t be seen as a pure literal translation, you
have to go about the concept in a more relaxed way. |
Altar of Betelgeuse don’t belong to any precise genre, they walk aside, going their way, following their own track, Doom-Death, trad. Doom, Drone and Stoner, observing their effects and noting their particular interest with the attention of an ethologist. The band took all they wanted from each of those genres, melting them in their own pot, blending them together and testing the results of different proportions of each ingredients. The new-born mixture is brought to you from the heights of the band’s own altar, built on the cherished remains of all the groups they pay tribute to: Om, Corrupted, Earth, Sleep and Evoken, among others.
’At the Shrine of Light’ is their first EP. It offers three tracks and each are an attempt at producing a ‘Metal syncretism’ of some sort. The story told is the one of the planet Betelgeuse, going into supernova and burning our miserable world alive.
On track one, ‘Smoldering Clouds Above Orion’, Stoner sets the tone: the opening riff is fuzzy, dark and undulates in an ominous vibe; chanting guitar chords and tempestuous drums weave an opaque framework. The colour and the shimmering of the notes have shamanic accents (where the religious element comes in), enhanced by intriguing guttural chants. The music takes its time, slowly progressing in an escalation of violence, bombast, darkness and doom. And that’s where Stoner becomes Death-Doom: the voice of aeons, the stellar explosion, the burst of radiations. Musically, the texture is more abrasive, the staccato riffs convey more energy while a discrete keyboard work manages to give a cosmic aura to the whole.
The tempo is slower on 'The Approaching Storm’, the riffing brought to a simple stubborn hammering. Then abruptly, and mixed to the Death-Doom approach, a clean Stoner-ish singing comes in that brings interesting sensitive shades to the fierce march to chaos. A second weird elements is the use of a pure Heavy Metal lead at the end of the song that slowly fades away as track three opens.
‘At the Shrine Of Light’ is shrouded in a funerary robe, the pace is even slower, the buiding is crumbling on all sides; the end of all things is approaching; the growls are predominant now, the singer goes fetch all he can in the lowest notes, drawing an apocalyptic soundscape. Then the band again takes a sharp turn and enrich the dread with a curious and almost out-of-place psychoactive guitar exercise that turns the frightening gloom into a dreamy experience. That last song is the longest. It allows the band more time to experience its singular visions in the light of the art of all the bands they can name as references (add to the above list: Candlemass, Sunn O))) , Ophis and many others, certainly). The end is pummeling hard, accumulating tension and, in all honesty, without achieving to depict the terrible disaster of the human world being burned to ashes.
That does not help me from granting them a certain kind of admiration for having so boldly managed to forge an exciting and - at the same time - odd mix from those diverse styles. For now, it’s an interesting project and it’s full of potential, but they still have to work on an ideal balance and brush off the disjointed scoria that let us a bit off-stage. Time will tell and I’m looking forward to hearing their next offering.
1. Smoldering Clouds Above Orion
2. The Approaching Storm
3. At the Shrine Of Light
Duration : Approx. 34 minutes
Visit the Altar of Betelgeuse bandpage.