Altari are a black metal band from Iceland and this is their debut album.
Altari play a form of black metal that has an individual vision for the style. The band approach their art from an avant-garde/experimental point of view, and create music that very much has its own identity.
The promo blurb mentions band such as Craft, Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Misþyrming, and Sinmara, and while this certainly sets the overall scene, it’s not the whole story. However, the promo then also goes on to reference acts such as Voivod, Sonic Youth, Blue Öyster Cult, This Mortal Coil, and Killing Joke. The end result is a convincing and charismatic album that is recognisably black metal, yet is also much more than just that.
The music is well-written and really does sound unusual for a blackened act. It combines clean and distorted sounds and influences into songs that come across as hybrids between the classic blackened style and something more akin to 70s rock mixed with shoegaze and post-punk. It’s an atypical brew for sure, but it’s a potent one. Oranssi Pazuzu and Ved Buens Ende are bands that springs to mind while listening to this, but only tangentially.
The songs are filled with warped psychedelic passages and loose swirling rhythms. They’re expressive in their cosmic explorations, building soundscapes that are both restrained and expansive. There are no traditional hooks here, but that doesn’t stop the music worming it’s way into your skull as you get to know its subversive ways.
The vocals remind me of something from the late 90s, as black metal was expanding from its second wave base. Sort of a mix of a few different bands from that era, (such as Dødheimsgard, Fleurety, etc.), crossed with, unexpectedly, a touch of the singer of Paradise Lost.
Altari have crafted an album that belongs to itself, despite the other bands I’ve mentioned. They are to be commended too for producing something so idiosyncratic and individual, as well as enjoyable and rewarding. Kröflueldar is an album that I urge you to spend some quality time with, getting lost in its depths.
Very highly recommended.