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Altar is an incredible collaboration between two drone legends; Sunn O))), the band who kick started the whole drone-doom movement, and Boris, a band well known for their distinct Psychedelic/Noise/Drone fusions. This album features some of the greatest drone material I have heard to date, and that’s saying a lot. Every song, while falling under the broad genre of doom-drone, is completely different from the last, for example; Etna, the song which opens Altar is a typical drone song, incorporating down tuned, repetitive riffs which is followed by N.L.T. an rough ambient masterpiece, which is void of instruments, replacing them with a rusty wind effect over a slight breeze, you’ve got to hear it to understand.
One thing that I noticed right away was that Sunn O))) and Boris have slightly modified the songs to something you wouldn’t normally expect on a doom-drone album, Etna defiantly stands out, in the heart of the song fast, technical drums slowly enter the song, and while maintaining the drone sound the drums really give it a whole lot of effect and direction. But it’s not only Etna that experiments with drone-doom. The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep), using clean played guitars in a repetitive style, reminds me of Earth, especially the Thrones and Dominions album. They’ve also added a nice, repetitive keyboard melody, which tremendously compliments the vocals and the guitar..
Sunn O))) and Boris worked with a number of people on this album, a lot in fact, considering there is only six tracks. The highlight, of course, is Jesse Skyes guest vocals on ‘The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)’, every review I’ve read has stressed how incredible this song is and I don’t disagree, it’s truly a highlight of the album. Other guest appearances include Kim Thayi (Soundgarden), who plays guitar on the last track of Altar, Blood Swamp, and does an awesome job at it, throwing drone-like solos and melodies over the heavy guitar feedback running throughout the entire song. Joe Preston, one of the masterminds behind drone-doom gods, Earth, does vocals for ‘Akuma No Kuma’, again, defiantly something you wouldn’t expect on a Sunn O))) and Boris compilation, computed voices, screaming keyboard melodies, awesome drumming and there’s even brass instruments played throughout the song, the first drone album I’ve heard with trumpets.
Defiantly a must have album for any Sunn O))), Boris or drone-doom fan. You’ll be guaranteed an original, thought-out masterpiece. I can’t explain how amazing this is, it’s defiantly a breakthrough in the doom-drone genre. Go out and buy this now.