Ascetic Reflection contains 40 minutes of warped death metal. As a rough outline of the band’s sound, take a base of Morbid Angel and then add in elements of bands like Gorguts, Artificial Brain, and Ulcerate. Then know that that these lazy comparisons do nothing to prepare you for the journey that Ascetic reflection offers.
With an organic sound that seems to creep and crawl out of the speakers, Altars’ death metal reveals itself in all of its corrupted splendour. Dark and brutal, this is death metal that takes the recognisable elements of the genre and twists them in new and novel ways. Otherworldly dissonance, progressive psychedelia, and modern avant-garde tendencies bloom from a base of old-school death metal. The ripe promise of the music is realised by the expressive freedom of the first three that are built upon the tried-and-tested foundation of the last one, allowing Altars to craft, (grow?), songs that sound and feel alive with virulent promise and fertile potency.
Atmosphere and aggression find themselves viciously entwined throughout Ascetic Reflection. The mood-based components of the music are an emergent property of the band’s atypical rhythmic intensity and blurred speed, both of which seem to feed off each other like some form of self-fulfilling perpetual growth machine. For death metal aficionados, the results are mesmerising and captivating.
The album flows like one giant living entity, pulsating with sinister vitality and lurching uncontrollably with grim spasms. It is diverse and well-rounded, offering a very immersive and complete experience; as well as the previously mentioned aspects of its sound, the album also boasts doom and black metal flourishes that merely add to its depth of delivery.
Ascetic Reflection is a very complete album, with a wealth of rewarding material to swamp the listener with. Altars have produced something special here, something that’s rich and highly textured. Any fan of death metal should find this a very enticing and enjoyable proposition.