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Immortality Comes with some Minor Flaws - 92%

Mailman__, February 24th, 2018

Four years ago, Alterbeast released this 30-minute, eight-track-long album.  It's a lot to take in in just half an hour, and it's certainly complex stuff, but while everyone's falling head-over-heels for this album, I do not believe that it is all that people say it is.  Yes, It's good.  Yes, it's melodic.  It's got everything a modern tech-death outlet requires.  It even, to some extent, stands out from the normal tech-death band.  I would say that it's definitely interesting when it comes to the solos as they sound like a mix of Necrophagist and Virvum, and their songwriting is great when it comes to the structure, but there's still something missing.

Oh, that's right, the killer riffs.  While there are a lot of cool riffs on here, none of them seem to stand out to me.  There is that cool solo in "Flesh Bound Text" that repeats once more near the end of the song.  In fact, it's that very solo that makes this track my favorite on the album.  However, as far as riffage goes, it's either typical tech-death finger exercises or it's a riff harvested from The Black Dahlia Murder's "Nocturnal."  Sometimes it's a combination of both.  There are some riffs that do not follow this particular pattern such as the aforementioned track, but still, the problem exists.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I hear these riffs, I don't go "Holy shit that's good." They just sort of happen, and, although I enjoy them, I'm not impressed.  I've heard it all before.

I'm not saying it's bad, but if one listens to melodic death metal, it's an incredibly predictable genre.  It's a metal genre with a few templates and the artists limit themselves to these templates quite often.  This album has a lot of melo-death influnce, especially in the last track, "Throne of Maggots."

Oh, also, there's this terrible riff on "Of Decimus Divine" that lasts from 1:40 to 1:44.  It's just four seconds, but it pisses me off.  It's so gross and sounds like the band was just dying to find some sort of transition between the fast shredding and the slow(er) second half of the song.  Let's just say that it disgusts me so much that I felt the need to include it in this review.

This is just the beginning of how many problems I have with this album.  It's not that I hate the album; it's just that it's a debut with a lot of minor errors (they kinda correct themselves on "Feast," but I'll get to that later).

Another problem I have with "Immortal" is that it only has three tracks.  I am aware that there are eight tracks, but let's be real here, it's just three tracks ("Flesh Bound Text", "Ancient's Retribution", and "Throne of Maggots") surrounded by filler.  After track one comes "Of Decimus Divine."  Listening to it, it's a great track, but it's very short and speeds through so fast that the listener, if not paying attention, will think that this track and "Vile Remnants" are one track.  In other words, these tracks run together.  Same goes with tracks five through seven.  They're all stellar tracks, but they are short and run into each other.  Although "Serpentspire" is a great track, it unfortunately gets swallowed up by "Into Oblivion."

So if you ask anyone what their favorite track from this album is, I bet the answer will be one of the three actual tracks.  And if you ask someone about "Flesh Bound text," they'll say "Oh, that's the one that starts the album off and has the classical intro and outro."  If you ask someone about "Ancient's Retribution," they'll say "Oh, that's the shreddy one."  And if you ask someone about "Throne of Maggots," they'll say "Oh, that's the one that ends the album and has that cool riff" (that cool riff that sounds like something that The Black Dahlia Murder would come up with).

Another problem I have with this album is the structure of the entire album.  I touched base on this a tiny bit, but not really.  I'm not just talking about better transitions between songs (so that they are actually identifiable), I am talking about track placement.  It may seem very petty to some people, but this matters to me, so I'm going to talk about it.  First thing's first, the structure already presented on "Immortal" is very good.  They took their best three songs and spread them out very nicely so that the listener thinks that the entire album is good, while it's just three songs doing the trick (I love the other songs, but let's be honest, those three were the one's that they made videos for and they are the strongest songs).  This is very good because most bands clump their best tracks all at the beginning.

Anyways, to the problem at hand.  I think that this album would have been a lot better if "Flesh Bound Text" ended the album and "Throne of Maggots" started it.  Honestly, this would have given this album a couple more percentage points on my scale.  The reasoning behind this is that with the classical outro on the first track, it would make a great ending.  It gives the listener a bit of time to contemplate what the hell they just heard.  Also, it is their strongest piece on the album, making it the grand finale, a display of all of their skills in one song.  It's a song that contains everything presented on this album, perfectly wrapping it up.  "Throne of Maggots," on the other hand, is a great track, so it would make a great opener.  It may not be their best work, but it's definitely one of the best on this album.  It's just a great song to ease the listener into the album.  It has good hooks and a nice vibe that an introduction track should have.

In total, the material and musicianship presented here is incredible.  The riffs are average and oftentimes predictable, but the song structure is absolutely perfect, compensating for the predictability.  This album has some flaws that go overlooked and take many listens to notice (I've listened to this album at least six times before reviewing it).  As far as modern technical death metal goes, this album is a great representation of it.  Bravo, Alterbeast, I can't wait to review "Feast" (I've listened to it three times today because Decibel Magazine has a stream of it and it's the day before it comes out).

Alterbeast - Immortal - 95%

The_Harvester, May 4th, 2014

It’s encouraging to see that out of the great swathe of artists emerging from the colourful metal scene of Sacramento, California, there are those who are wholeheartedly resigned to pushing forward intricate tech death in the vein of The Faceless and Decrepit Birth. Back in 2009, resident deathsters Dismal Lapse produced Eon Fragmentation, a record that bowled me over with it’s ruthless precision. The album left me wondering what was next to come out of the West coast capital, but what I didn’t know was that it’d be at the hands of a band that goes by the rather enigmatic name Gary Busey Amber Alert.

This was in 2010. Fast forward to present day and Alterbeast as they are now known, have let loose their long-awaited debut Immortal, what frontman Cam Rogers (in an interview with blabbermouth.net) proclaims to be “spawned from hard work, dedication, and downright brutal musicianship”. He’s not wrong. From the very moment the gentle opening strains of “Flesh Bound Text” rapidly descend into relentless noodling, tremolo picking and frankly inhuman drumming, there’s no question that tears of blood were shed in the making of this record. With the drummer ex-Cattle Decapitation/All Shall Perish and bassist ex-The Black Dahlia Murder, there’s undoubted expertise at the helm, but no one’s questioning these guys instrumental skills that’s for damn sure.

There’s an undeniably familiar ring to many of the passages on Immortal, examples of which are displayed on tracks like “Vile Remnants” and “Mutilated Marvel”. Catching the album mid play-through I’d be convinced I was listening to The Black Dahlia Murder, with a matching guitar tone and vocal performance a dead ringer for TBDM’s Trevor Strnad. The band have made no secret of this influence, citing them as inspiration on more than a few occasions. But most important is Alterbeast’s ability to punctuate each song with an unmistakable quality that truly makes its mark on the album as a whole. From the tightly-wound close picking/double bass groove of “Decimus Divine” to “Ancient’s Retribution” where the off-time fret tapping sounds like a guitar warehouse explosion.

Its a small trade-off then that the album feels a bit on the short side, not at all uncommon for technical death, but in this case it feels like you’ve been cheated. At eight tracks clocking in to just under a half hour, you’ll be left fiending for another dose, but this speaks to the album’s quality more than anything else. Immortal has reportedly been in production for quite a while, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the band may have more material set for release in the not too distant future. I’m happy to wait for now, because since the promo dropped my speakers haven’t had any time to recover, and I’ve got Immortal to thank for that.

It’s very rare for such a young band to put a genre’s reigning champions at risk in the way Alterbeast have. It’s a stunning debut, with one track after the next brimming with a vacuum tight production, distinct character and punishing brutality. What we have here is a sure fire contender for album of the year, and this early on that’s no small accomplishment. So far, 2014 looks to be an outstanding year for metal.

Written for The Metal Observer

A Fantastic, Brutal Debut - 95%

Sympherion, March 23rd, 2014

Just a few day's ago the band Alterbeast, which was formerly under the name "Gary Busey Amber Alert", released their debut album "Immortal". This album has been nothing short of being highly anticipated, with reviews from multiple major metal sites and even a recommendation to listeners from the guys in The Black Dahlia Murder. The members of Alterbeast and their record label had released three or four songs prior to releasing the full album, just to give listeners a taste. I admit, I was quite confused on what the overall sound might be, as the songs they had pre released had sort of a collision of sounds. This is never a bad thing, as a lot of the metal community praises creativity and well mixed musical styles.

I'm here to tell you that fans of all kinds of metal will enjoy this album. Not only does this album have a great mix of the more melodic side of death metal, but you'll also find some nice brutal and technical death metal in there as well. For lovers of the higher screaming style vocals this album is a great one to listen to and explore. The vocalist does the great gutturals and screams in a pretty great amount of unison and does not use too much over the other. The song "Vile Remnants" is a great example of this. You'll hear that whichever vocal style you might here, it fits quite well with the instrumentals or whatever section of the song it might be.

This album has great instrumental work all around, and even has some cool sound effects at the beginning and ends of songs. The guitars in this album have an extremely heavy tone, but are not boring at all. They get utilized well throughout the album with multiple solos that are long and hearty, you have some slam type material in there, and of course those perfect blast beat riffs. Now the drums, holy crap are you in for a ride. With Alterbeast having The Kennedy Veil's drummer on their side, you should expect some insane drumming. The drums in this album are one of the most intense parts in my opinion, the fills are just great, the blast beats are terrific and on point, and the drum work during the solos just sums it all up. The best part about the instrumentals is how well they mix together. On song's like "Mutilated Marvel" and "Into Oblivion", you can tell that these musicians now what they're doing with their instruments and how well they can keep on pace with each other.

The album keeps an extremely heavy tone and sound throughout and has a dark and brutal ambience. It's one of those albums that never stops hitting you hard and just keeps splitting your brain. The album keeps you guessing, from song to song you'll hear that each one is unique in its own way and stands out from every other song on the album. It's hard to get bored of this album while you listen to it because of what it utilizes, and how creative yet well produced it is. You can hear influences from all around the charts, some of the one's that stood out to me were Suffocation, Dying Fetus, The Black Dahlia Murder, and maybe even some Decrepit Birth!

Some of the things that disappointed me a bit were with song's like "Flesh Bound Text", which is the opening song, it sets a nice melodic sound for the album, which is definitely utilized throughout the album but I wish it was used a bit more. The only other thing I can think of is that some of the riffs on here were just downright amazing, but unfortunately some of those riffs were only used for an extremely short time, which was a little disappointing.

I'm going to give this album a 95%, because overall it really was a great listen. There aren't many flaws within the album and it definitely does what it's supposed to. It's an album you can simply go right to and know that when you put it on you'll be hearing the brutal death metal sound you want, while also getting to hear some of that melodic and technical stuff you love too. For a debut, this album couldn't have been much better. It surprised the hell out of me and I think that every death metal fan should give it at least one listen, Alterbeast has created a death metal beast with "Immortal".