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Ereb Altor - "Gastrike" (CD)

Ereb Altor - "Gastrike" CD cover image

"Gastrike" track listing:

1. The Gathering of Witches (5:39)
2. Dance of Darkness (6:19)
3. Dispellation (6:41)
4. Boatmans Call (5:38)
5. The Mistress of Wisdom (8:25)
6. I Djupet Så Svart (6:15)
7. Seven (6:11)

Reviewed by on July 10, 2012

"Starting out as a slow motion Viking-meets-doom offshoot from the band Isole, Swedish duo Ereb Altor is now a trio that has ramped up its original sound by adding in the screams and drumming style of black metal."

Starting out as a slow motion Viking-meets-doom offshoot from the band Isole, Swedish duo Ereb Altor is now a trio that has ramped up its original sound by adding in the screams and drumming style of black metal. Even with the music moving faster (and in this case that just means “mid-paced”) and hitting harder, the atmosphere is still firmly entrenched in every song, as “Gastrike” weds epic storytelling of old legends with a heavy and abrasive musical assault.

Previous album “The End” was actually supposed to be the final output from Ereb Altor, and in many ways it did signify the end of what came before. At first listen “Gastrike” sounds like it came from a completely different band altogether from debut release “By Honour.” Most noticeably absent are the 10 minute tracks moving at a snail's speed, although there are still slower-tempo segments throughout the album that show off the doom influence. The shorter song lengths are generally a boon, with the only real exception being “Boatman’s Call,” a track that is simultaneously the shortest and the most repetitive on the release.

The vocal focus has strongly shifted towards harsh screams, but there are still Viking style chants and clean singing that creates a specific tone, greatly enhanced by the artwork and lyrical themes. It’s an interesting take on black metal that results in an “epic” sound without actually becoming symphonic or blending in things like melodic/power metal. The ending track in particular works the triad of black-Viking-doom and even channels a bit of a Carach Angren sound with its clear storytelling and atmospheric interludes. “The Mistress of Wisdom” is another standout track, fitting a whole lot of variety into eight minutes of music, and even bringing out an unexpected thrash guitar solo.

While the Ereb Altor of old can still be heard from time to time, “Gastrike” is essentially a new beast altogether. There’s still a lot of atmosphere, but the music has drastically moved towards the black metal end of the metal spectrum, and the songs use a good deal more distorted guitars and blast beats. This style effectively treads new territory while keeping the old sound in mind, and results in an intriguing blend for fans of pretty much any style of extreme metal.

Highs: Lots of style changes all held together by black metal influenced by doom.

Lows: Although the songs are much shorter now, there is still some repetition.

Bottom line: Ereb Altor ups the speed and adds black metal to its epic storytelling for new album 'Gastrike.'

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)