Tuesday 11 September 2018

Iron Altar - Pillars Of Blood (Album Review)

Release date: September 22nd 2018. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Pillars Of Blood – Tracklisting

3.Burning Fields
4.Sanguine Petrichor
7.Small Gods
8.Lost Insignificance
9.Echo Chamber


Andrew Callis - Vocals
Daniel Drever - Guitar
Neil Mathers - Guitar
Jamie Scougal - Bass
Lindsay Alan Conway - Drums


Iron Altar debut album Pillars Of Blood is a downright bleak, heavy and nasty experience. The band has progressed from their debut EP released a couple years go to a more desolate progressive sound. Taking elements of Groove, Thrash, Tech Metal, Death Metal and merging it with an epic Doom/Sludge Metal sound.

Their debut EP had traces of Stoner Metal running through out its short running time. However this album is fast-paced assault with the band taking influence from Mastodon, Lamb Of God and GOJIRA to name but a few.

Opening song - Deincarnation - offers the most perfect glimpse into Iron Altar's dark world. As a wave of Tech-Death riffs are played at a furious pace. The sludgy grooves are there on different parts of the song though it's very hard to hear on your very first listen. The vocals from Andrew are very demonic as they move from death based growls to hardcore clean vocals with relevant ease. The album is quite unforgiving with its bleak lyrical content and use of different heavy metal styles. The album never lets up in switching the many different musical atmospheres Iron Altar have included here.

There are some parts of this album I really love like the heavy fast-paced progressive technical guitar solos and some parts I struggled with. The vocals are top-notch from the start. Songs such as Amaranthine, Burning Fields and Sanguine Petrichor are future "Mosh-Pit" classics as they have a fearless drive and ferocious quality to them.

I haven't listened to this style of music fully and almost religiously since my late twenties. I'm now in my early forties but it's was good to listen to Iron Altar's more modern style of Groove/Death/Tech/Thrash/Sludge hybrid sound. Whatever you want to call it, Iron Altar has delivered a highly exciting album that's not afraid to pull any punches with the different styles of music they have to offer. The production is impressive for the most part. There are a few rough parts on the second half of the album. Though that shouldn’t stop your enjoyment of the album.

Other good songs to check out are: Manifestation, Small Gods and Echo Chamber. As this is where Iron Altar impresses the most with their bombastic style of extreme metal sounds. This album is perhaps best suited for the more Extreme Metal fan than the Doom/Sludge Metal kind. Even though Pillars Of Blood does have plenty of Doom/Sludge Metal riffs, it's outweighed and out-manoeuvred by the more Progressive and Extreme Metal sounds that Iron Altar have created here.

Overall, Pillars Of Blood will definitely see Iron Altar gain some recognition within the UK Heavy Metal Underground scene. This is a harsh and superbly entertaining album from start to finish.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Iron Altar for the promo. Pillars Of Blood will be available to buy on CD/DD from September 22nd 2018.