Live At Ceremony of Sludge
12 February 2021
Bring your pain, your loss, and your love and place it on the Alltar, as we honor those that came before us. Emerging from the Pacific Northwest region, Portland’s Alltar set out a two-fold reminder: one, of the potency behind a doom, sludge, and post-metal blend; and two, of just how good live music will be once it returns. After the successful release of their début Hallowed, the quintet’s next move is to release a live record commemorating a stunning set at Ceremony of Sludge in their hometown, which saw a stacked bill including Usnea and Brume shake The World Famous Kenton Club back in March.
“Ceremony of Sluuuuudge, baby!” comes booming through the speakers from vocalist Juan Carlos Caceres, whose amiable attitude contrasts with both the Ozzy-like wailing and harsher screaming – both of which hitting impressive peaks on “War Altar”. The lyrics draw from a wide range of topics; in the bands’ words, “the triumphs and tribulations of human-kind. From the technical and artistic birth of society’s achievements in art and technology, as well as the rise of power, war, destruction, and the control of humanity.”
One unusual feature of this release is just how damn good the mix is for such a young band in a festival format. Aside from the vocals soaring and shrieking, the drums pop and crash, the bass rumbles with menace, and the cavernous rhythm guitars are hypnotic. The five work seamlessly to stir the genre-melding pot, the contents of which contain pinches of Neurosis’ Souls at Zero, Amenra’s Mass series, latter-day Elder, and Cult of Luna.
The record itself is akin to a beast that awakens – it starts with smooth guitar lines interwoven with Moog synthesizers on “Arcana”, while by the time “Cantilate” rolls around, there’s an unfolding crescendo of crunch. And then, just as the audience recovers from the devastating closer, a simple “thank you, we’re Alltar, Glasghote is up next!” It’s over in a short space of time, but that’s the beauty of live albums – there’s always the replay button.
- War Altar
- Ceremony of Sludge
Nate Wright – Drums (Hound the Wolves, Tigers On Opium)
Tim Burke – Guitars, Samples (ex-Boneworm, Hound the Wolves, Electric Ring, ex-Skull Island)
Colin Hill – Guitars, Samples
Juan Carlos Caceres – Vocals, Moog Synthesizers (Tigers On Opium, ex-Sioux, Hound the Wolves, The Hungry Ghost)
Casey Braunger – Bass (He is Me)