Ereb Altor By Honour

Ereb Altor started out well over a decade ago as a Bathory-esque Viking metal band with epic intentions. These origins might be deciphered from the sound of their first label release, By Honour, and its stripped-down fusion of Swedish folk and European doom, with layered male singing/chanting. The album’s mostly slow but steady momentum has a tension-building effect, from the looping repetition of a piano instrumental to the chugging emphasis of the gritty rhythm guitars, although things get progressively more vehement and ferocious as By Honour unfolds. Lengthy tracks make the four-minute-long opener seem like a short intro but they hold up surprisingly well, even when they reach the ten-minute mark, as if creating an aural narrative. Folky acoustic interludes interrupt the more thunderous passages but echo-y leads and synth strings also find their way into some of Ereb Altor’s songs, tempering Viking nostalgia with hints of goth, neoclassical and Eastern melodic progressions. The eerie accumulation of influences helps the band escape the trap of imitation but By Honour is as monstrous as it is intriguing. And maybe that’s the point. (I Hate)