Altarage – Succumb (Review)

Altarage - SuccumbAltarage are a Spanish blackened death metal band and this is their fourth album.

I’ve been enjoying Altarage’s output over the years – 2017’s Endinghent and 2019’s The Approaching Roar are both really solid albums – and Succumb continues the upward trend that the band are clearly on. Succumb contains 63 minutes of foul blackened death metal, and it’s their best – and longest – work yet.

Succumb is a monster of blackened dissonance, crushing doom, and deathly fury. The sound you’ll find on this album is dark, bleak, and oppressive. Altarage deal in horrific chaotic death metal that’s also highly atmospheric in a claustrophobic, suffocating way. Succumb is a truly unpleasant listen, which is part of the appeal.

Succumb is a mixture of the old and the new, and the album art is a clue to this; it’s the first release to have the band’s logo on it since their debut album, but it’s also the first to have any colour on it. This mixture of old and new is reflected in the music. On the one hand what we have here is a refined Altarage that have distilled their sound down to the essence of what makes them so formidable. On the other the band have also challenged themselves to produce their best, most immersive work, trawling the abyss for twelve tracks of grim nightmare.

Altarage have also by expanded their horizons further on this album. Expressions of malignant creativity are spread out here and there, infecting the songs with viral bursts of Hellish invention. The band’s singer seems to have been possessed by something otherworldly for this album – Succumb boasts some of the most daemonic vocals I’ve probably ever heard. Also, there’s the 21-minute closing track Devorador de Mundos, which is an unexpected black hole of unending droning misery and woe.

There are layers of filth and malevolence on Succumb, so many that it’s difficult to take in properly on any single listen. The album is a multifaceted dark gem; ostensibly it’s all ferocious mayhem, impenetrable doom, and blackened intensity, but look closer and you’ll find hidden depths of unending darkness to explore.

This is the album I feel I’ve been waiting for Altarage to unleash, where they fulfil their potential in the most devastating of ways. Succumb is a portal to Hell surrounded by whirlpools of suffering and torment. Come drown in Altarage’s murderous maelstrom, and get lost in their unclean waves forever.

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