Lord Dying

Poisoned Altars

Written by: AP on 11/02/2015 18:50:22

Having stumbled across Lord Dying when they were providing support for Red Fang’s European tour last year, the Portland, OR based metal crew have since occupied a place on my ones to watch list for 2015. The band’s paralysing rage and keen ear for a solid groove quickly had me intrigued - not because the music is particularly groundbreaking, but because it was delivered with such intense conviction, much like Swedish thrashers The Haunted or Norwegian sludge/hardcore fusionists Jagged Vision. “Poisoned Altars” is Lord Dying’s second studio album in all, and it jabs the band into the extreme end of the sludge metal genre with a nasty, ill willing tone, sinister melodies and sour, pulverising bellows by vocalist/guitarist Erik Olson. All of this is of course readily deducible from the artwork, an emblem of dire portent and blasphemy suggesting the faint of heart to kindly fuck off.

That ferocity is, at first, intoxicating as Olson and his compatriots discharge the smoldering title track to kick off the proceedings, the crackling tone of the guitars, the threatening character of the 'melody', as well as the depth of downtuning employed all combining to generate an effect that has you spellbound by virtue of sheer terror. In the following "The Clearing at the End of the Path" and on centerpiece "An Open Sore" there are touches of progression not unlike what you would expect to discover on a Mastodon track to spice it up and avoid sending "Poisoned Altars" into an abyss of senseless aggression, but while the latter especially provides an exposé to the wide range of influences Lord Dying call their own with the sullen, yet vast atmosphere and Olson's brooding roars incorporating the sound of the NOLA scene by extolling the work of Kirk Windstein and Crowbar to palatable results; there are signs littered virtually everywhere across the album that suggest Lord Dying's stylistic palette is a little too limited to create a truly lasting impression.

Lord Dying are at their best producing tracks like the concluding "Darkness Remains", which are stretched past the six-minute mark in order to let them breathe and develop multiple facets. Powerful though his voice may be, Olson is not in possession of a particularly wide range, making it crucial that he and his colleagues - guitarist Chris Evans, bassist Don Capuano & drummer Nickolis Parks - stray from just atavistic rage in the instrumental aspects. The dynamic structure and infusion of rich (though always dark) melodies in "Darkness Remains" and "An Open Sore" make these tracks stand out, yet at the inevitable cost of making much of the remainder of "Poisoned Altars" sound a little lacklustre in terms of ideas and execution. Less patient listeners are thus likely to miss the magnificent crescendo to the tune of which the album closes, and that would be doing it a gross injustice.

It is obvious that the quartet is onto something here - as much was clear from my introduction to them in the live setting as well - but there's a pressing need for Lord Dying to focus on their most distinguishing traits rather than placing most of the emphasis on the saturating ones. "Offering Pain..." shows they have the prowess needed to make the ire and the thoughtful sit side by side in harmony, so it begs the question: why not use this approach more often?

6

Download: Poisoned Altars, An Open Sore, Offering Pain (and an Open Mind), Darkness Remains
For the fans of: Black Tusk, Herder, Jagged Vision
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.01.2015
Relapse Records

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