Among the Ruins by Altar of Betelgeuze

Release date: April 15, 2017
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records

Finland is home to many doom/death bands, the place where doom/death was widely believed to have started. Finland’s Altar of Betelgeuze play Finnish doom/death, but the sort that never blasts or varies the tempos with faster paces. They go from slow to chopping mid-tempo, and their groovy, heavy riffs inspires the same seventies vertigo that bands like Monster Magnet tried to recapture in the latter band’s best years.

Altar of Betelgeuze‘s Among the Ruins is definitely doom metal, and partly death metal, with growls and clean singing sharing the stage effectively. You never get the guitar shreds and double-bass kicking sections on Among the Ruins. The riffs are monolithic and choppy, going through bombastic chord transitions that send the walls plummetting down with the press of a play button.

They don’t go any faster than mid-tempo, and often the beats drop out in favor of the guitars palm-muted chugging. The leads come in at the middle sections of songs and accompany the rhythms, and while the solos could have used more exuberant virtuoso play, they prove adequate on more than a few occasions.

The runtime is sufficient for background listening during a workday, as the songs are epic and never just feature a chord per riff downpicking. The songs feature some clean staccato picking to clear the air, before the heavy muscular riffs usher in doom metal magic. It’s definitely stoner rock influenced, doom metal paced, and death metal laced Finnish doom/death quite dissimilar from the Finnish death/doom scene in general. These guys blend the elements with authenticity, never so much as getting carried away with fast sections that don’t fit, or feature plenty of ambient trickery proliferate in many doom albums.

Among the Ruins is recommended for fans of doom metal, doom/death with only slight death metal nuance involved in the songwriting. The grit on the guitar is just enough to grind bones into a voodoo potion fitting for rituals in bayou country, or in the wastelands of frozen tundra abundant in Scandinavia.

Altar of Betelgeuze champions doom metal’s earliest progenitors, featuring seventies groove reminiscent of old Black Sabbath, basso profundo death growls typical of Finnish death metal practitioners like Convulse. The spoken word vocal on the opening track, ‘The Offering’, is a perfect vocal style to open the album. They subsequently mix up the styles to worthy acclaim, and the guitars never get boring, no matter how the band breaks it down to transition from the main riffs.

So, if the above description suits your fancy, check out the exclusive stream of the second track ‘Sledge of Stones’ we feature here. Doom has always had a strong cult following, never completely becoming trend-worship for the many metal heads that seek the next big thing. Doom will always be around, and it is important for bands to recapture the passion that resulted in the inception of the style. More so in this scenario, it is important also for bands to succeed in adding elements to expand doom metal’s known parameters. Altar of Betelgeuze does that and more. I played Among the Ruins for hours, and each repeat listen was as enjoyable as the previous one. If you haven’t checked out doom in a while, this is recommended for a casual listen. Among the Ruins will impress veterans of the sub-genre and will usher in neophytes if played to fans of discerning tastes. Few bands really play doom without the typical downpick per riff transition that bores most metalheads. This band always crunches a bunch of chords together, never just playing the same tiring downpick til you drop method. Suitable for many backdrops of desolate, dank, derelict wastelands, Altar of Betelgeuze’s Among the Ruins is prime doom metal for fans of genre-bending doom/death metal. I’m looking forward to hearing more material from the band.

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