Onwards and Downwards contains 46 minutes of old-school music that sits somewhere between doom metal and psychedelic hard rock.
Alastor are one of those rare bands that take influence from the genre-defining Black Sabbath, but rather than come off as tired imitators like so many do, instead manage to breathe new life into the old, old formula by virtue of the skill with which they play it. Onwards and Downwards is an album that may have been spiritually birthed decades ago, but sits proudly as an exemplar of old-school doom/stoner rock/metal in 2021.
The songs are saturated with occult moods and distorted darkness. Thick riffs, engaging melodies, and psychedelic vibes abound. The band’s use of organ is infrequent, but welcome. Alastor’s well-written songs are full of hooks and catchy moments. Some of these are blatant and in-your-face, while others are more subtle, the sort that worm their way into your brain over time and then stay there.
The singer’s performance is understated, yet potent. His voice navigates the seas of distortion like a veteran of these fuzzy oceans, and his singing is the perfect accompaniment to the well-crafted songs.
The recording is warm and organic. It’s well-judged in that it plays to the band’s strengths; retro enough to do justice to the band’s old-school influences, but modern enough to have impact and weight.
Onwards and Downwards is a very enjoyable and easy to like album. If you have a taste for this style, then Alastor’s latest is highly recommended.