Spain's Altarage have returned from the dismal pit they mine for their harrowing sound with Endinghent, an all-consuming cloud of sonic ash that serves as a successor to the band's previous work. Continuing their death-worshipping hymnal to black oblivion, Altarage have produced yet another consistent arrangement of tracks that are not in any way welcoming to casual listeners. Simply put, this is not a pleasant listen.
Walls of sound suffocate the listener with swirling guitar passages that interlock and become one, so that songs like "Cataclysmic Triada" seem to be heard through a haze of locust swarms, their droning buzz persisting despite the death metal churning that echoes from within.
The fittingly titled slow dirge "Incessant Magma" starts off the album before "Spearheaderon" cuts through the gloom with savage precision and a burst of adrenal speed, even adding a few twists of djent-influenced bass lines toward the end that scream Meshuggah. "Rift," in particular, employs dissonant chords that disorient, and throughout the album, gasping vocals haunt like a thirsting wraith.
Despite its death metal tendencies, Endinghent is permeated by noisy drones that create a strong sense of atmosphere and air of hopelessness — but it can also become wearing and repetitive at times. By the end, every song seems to have inhabited the same sonic landscape, despite their differences, sinking back into the murk where it all started.
So while Endinghent likely won't change the minds of those who dislike Altarage's torturous sound, fans of their previous works will no doubt enjoy this latest effort. Rather than moving their sound forward, Altarage seem to be digging in, basking in the stew of their own acidic filth. (Season of Mist)