Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Inner Altar - Vol I (2015) / 73%

Strong smoke yo!

Ahhh yeah, the retro rock scene can scare some people but I think it has its fair share of gems and interesting bands from all over the world. We can safely add Missouri to the list with the first demo of Inner Altar, a quartet from Kansas City (yeah, the one in Missouri and not... Kansas, these Americans are insane). Anyway, I'm not here to talk about geography even though it's an awesome subject, what about their music?

The four musicians all named with nicknames reminding me of fun Native American appellations mixed with weed culture slang (Strong Smoke or Long Feather!) came up with a very dynamic and somewhat interesting mixture of doom metal with psychedelic rock, hard rock and even some Medieval folky overtones. It's a very tight demo with an excellent production for a first release (it sounds like a full length to me, to be honest). The four songs are quite fast and rocky with a good ear for catchy guitar melodies and also includes short, fun quiet psych moments (see “Fall of the Rebel Angels” and its bluesy guitar licks). While I think they could slow things down a little and work a bit more on the riffs they use (I dig the repetition of big doom riffs), there's nothing inherently wrong with the way their songs are written and you'll spend a good twenty-five minutes in their company.

It seems that a trend these days is the amalgamation of genres, a sort of kitchen sink approach to metal or rock and these Americans are disciples of this approach. The difficult thing is to coherently mix the styles and they do it well. The demo starts with a two minutes soft The Doorsesque introduction with ethereal yet simple guitar playing before branching out into Black Sabbathian inspired proto doom metal.

The main problem (if we can call it one) with them is that they're sticking to a safe formula and doesn't deviate from the norm. You've heard this before if you like bands like Graveyard, Kadavar and their more metal counterparts in Witchcraft, you know what to expect. Add a pretty talented singer who channels Albert Witchfinder (Reverend Bizarre) and Jim Morrison and you're set for something that's enjoyable but mundane. Still, it's quite fun and worth a look, just don't expect to be blown away by originality or by some tremendous songwriting. We'll see where this band goes but for a first demo, the production values are high and Inner Altar already established their sound quite well. It's vintage as hell and it's well written, I already expect Vol II, that's a band that I'll follow and so should you if you dig their sound.

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