Alterbeast: Immortal

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Alterbeast: Immortal
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Alterbeast: Immortal
Technical Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Unique Leader Records
March 18th, 2014
Release length: 29:59
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Gary Busy Amber Alert first formed back in 2011 in Sacramento, California. After some line-up changes and plenty of live shows, the group caught the attention of Unique Leader Records, who signed them in 2013 to issue their debut album, Immortal. However, upon signing, this entity changed it’s name to Alterbeast, a mixture of Melodic and Technical Death Metal that recorded in various studios. Vocals were arranged at Mayhemeness Studios by Bob Swanson (who worked with Rings of Saturn), drums at Castle Ultimate Studios with Zack Ohren (who worked with All Shall Perish and Cattle Decapitation just to name a few), and finally guitars and bass at Augmented Audio by former The Black Dahlia Murder bassist Ryan “Bart” Williams. With a solid team behind a quickly rising force in Metal, it’s almost impossible to not get excited over their first studio outing. But is Immortal really all it’s built up to be, or does it fail to utilize all the potential at the group’s disposal?

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Right away it’s pretty clear some Melodic Death Metal influence from bands like Vital Remains, Dissection and even early The Black Dahlia Murder exists within the group during “Flesh Bound Text,” a trait that appears on many other songs as well. After a sample from an early record acted as the introduction, you are met with crisp pounding drums that only let up during slower bridges and violent guitar work that carries a very subtle melodic touch while laced with Origin-grade technicality. The brutality on display seems familiar, though far more devastating, especially when the pace gives way to a crushing slower passage just past the two minute mark. There’s a decent breakdown after wards that doesn’t really need to be there, but shifts into the Neo-Classical guitar solo nicely at least. The song itself sounds like madness, but it manages to flow smoothly from start to finish. This is the set up to the chaos to come.

“Throne of Maggots” has some blast beat heavy sections that end up a bit too thin. A good majority of the song has a steady pace from the bass kicks, though the chorus gos into a bit of hardcore Death Metal aggression that takes from Dying Fetus right down to the short gutturals that border squealing. It’s a brief passage, but the closest to straight forward groove heavy Death Metal you’ll get on this album. The song has a slow fade out to some calm wind effects, as if the passing of the storm “Mutilated Marvel” starts with. The timing of the guitar chords shine through more than the drumming, often creating an unsettling atmosphere backed by gutturals. The breakdown about a minute and fifteen seconds in comes off more like a slam, which is one of the few on this release that really suit that term, giving a breath to the listener before more complex brutality prior to simpler grooves you can’t help but bang your head along to.

“Of Decimus Divine” tones down the amount of shifts to the music, but remains that melodic touch as mentioned earlier. The deep bass and mixture of mid-range distortions and cleaner leads immediately make the track intimidating. The enthusiastic rasps and growling vocals add extra bite to the already intense verses. About a minute and forty-five seconds in, a bass drop sets up a depressive tone to the riffs that wraps things up in the way a chapter to a modern King Diamond song would close. Around twenty-eight seconds in there’s what sounds like a skip, as if an edit from the studio that sounds a bit unnatural. While not bad, it’s momentarily distracting. And then there’s “Ancient’s Retribution,” which has some heavily technical passages similar to The Faceless laced with deep, grinding chugs that border a Deathcore style. Thankfully the more complex leads over it weave a slight Cannibal Corpse-esque groove that is coarse enough to grate the flesh slowly from your body.

Immortal is far from the most unique example of Death Metal and the many styles that make up the ever growing genre, but it sure as hell is one of the more fluid entries as of late. Aside a handful of decent breakdowns that don’t need to exist, or could be beefed up a little more to assert additional needed authority, this album becomes the equivalent of being taunted and stalked by the bastard child of an inbred redneck family that looks to eviscerate you by the end and make love to the remains. Alterbeast take full advantage of everything they worked for and all the right tools at their disposal to make Immortal not only an album of the year contender on many lists out there, but also one of the most impressive debuts you’ll come across in at least the past five years.

01. Flesh Bound Text – 5:54
02. Of Decimus Divine – 2:36
03. Vile Remnants – 5:18
04. Ancient’s Retribution – 3:46
05. Mutilated Marvel – 3:38
06. Into Oblivion – 2:50
07. Serpentspire – 2:57
08. Throne of Maggots – 4:09
Initial Pressing Score: 9/10

Alterbeast
Alterbeast

Digital review copy of this release provided by Unique Leader Records via Earsplit PR.