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Altair > Demo > Reviews

The Oblivion Arbiters - 95%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, October 27th, 2012

Far, far away from the mainstream and city lights, in the deep depths of underground, there was a Polish band called Altair, split-up many years ago with the only proof of existence. This band is the next metal crew on this mighty page which can be described by means of such adjectives as forgotten, underestimated, unheeded or underrated. For sure these words are used here quite often and in the case of this demo I won’t be an original metal freak. So prepare yourself because in front of your eyes another jewel of thrash metal approaches straight from the Polish land and Jastrzębie Zdrój town. Before writing about musical content, I have to write some words of introduction to get better insight into the matter. The band was born in 1992, in the times when thrash genre started to rot. Assuredly young metal supporters wanted to animate their beloved but dying metal music and after two years of rehearsals, the demo attacked my metalized mind and ears. So, Altair proposed pure thrash release in 1994. Any comments about contemporary scene? At that time practically only Testament recorded thrash metal album (“Low”, but everybody saw some changes as compared to the 80s classic albums). The giants were changing their style, so you can understand my indescribable joy while listening to this crushing demo.

The first seconds show one thing: very good production that knocked me down at the time. Simply the sound is just top-notch and it is hard to believe that I deal with Polish underground demo. Everything is audible here, even bone-crushing bass lines. Unlike many Polish crews that suffered from bad sound or lack of money to record in proper studio with proper and helpful engineer, first attempt of Altair is a perfect example how the metal stuff should be recorded. Of course, sound realization is not enough to praise the thing to the skies, what is more, musicians don’t offer the revolution in music. Anyway, as I signalized earlier, in times of “hey guys, forget about pure thrash and follow death/black trend”, Altair entered my metal heart like a long-awaited messiah, even if musical comparisons go to Polish Kat (especially “Bastard” era) and maybe Sacred Reich. But forget about worthless and miserable imitation here or wanna-be attitude, Altair has his own perceptible metal touch. And in addition they beat aforementioned crews without any hesitation.

Demo is opened by almost two minute instrumental miniature. It’s like a calm before the storm, it has a light beginning with capfuls of wind, then hard powerful guitars appear just like a very good memorable solo lead. The first proper track called “In Vitro” is maintained in mid-paced tempo which is rather preferred by the band, hard and heavy guitars effectively overwhelm the listener, but some speed-up is heard too. Unfortunately they showed too short guitar lead for me. Also there is a necessity to write something about vocals which remind me of R. Kostrzewski (Kat) a bit. Robert vocals aren’t special or unique but perfectly fits to the music, he sings in Polish, the words are very clear and this is most important. The next track “Odmieńcy” is the best one here, slow, monumental tunes on the start with excellent work of rhythm section (techno-thrash?), then the band shows murderous speed-ups supported by massive fat guitar riffing of Mandat brothers with two superb solo leads (the first one shorter, the second fortunately longer) where guitarist creates really good melodic lines. Simply, “Odmieńcy” song is a thrash killer, absolutely base of the genre, and the right smasher to play live! The next three tracks maybe aren’t played in such an astonishing vein, but the very solid level of “In Vitro” is maintained beyond doubt. The last twenty second of “Głosy Nocy” (the last one) has some fast moments, then the band suddenly ends the entirety…

So, let’s sum all the things up: this is the best demo in my collection when it comes to thrash metal categories. In all-metal: one of the best. And now I wonder how it is possible to record such a great stuff after merely two years. It is a proof that Altair had everything to record a debut album and conquer fossilized Polish (and maybe worldly?) thrash scene: precise communication within the band and great ideas to compose thrashing killers, moreover, they knew how to record their songs in studio. What is more, these four musicians were musically gifted, in every aspect of musical layers there are things to praise, listen especially to my beloved “Odmieńcy”. Unfortunately those years were deadly enemies of such music, labels were interested only in death and black directions, so Altair felt into scene oblivion inexorably. Even they got quite good review in Polish Metal Hammer magazine (commercial press!), they failed to sign any deal. Our scene has lost a thrash jewel. I am thrash freak from the beginning of my metal education and have many albums with such killing music, and this band, forgotten by the cruel world, is one amongst them. Amongst Testament, Overkill, Forbidden to name a few. I know the reunion is impossible, but the better these 25 minutes of pure greatness than nothing. And if I am getting balder and balder with every single day, this record seems to be untouchable by the greedy hands of time. A real thrash monolith.