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Altar Of Pain - "Severe Scourge" (CD/EP)

Altar Of Pain - "Severe Scourge" CD/EP cover image

"Severe Scourge" track listing:

1. Death by Exsanguination
2. Fatal Disease
3. The Fleshless Goddess
4. Infected
5. Organic Pathogen
6. Scriptorium
7. Void Dimension

Reviewed by on June 5, 2012

"'Severe Scourge' is a very good technical death metal offering for those who like style and force."

Some ridiculously good talent has been coming out of Portugal and its island territories in the past couple of years. Altar of Pain is one such band, hailing from the Madeira Islands - an archipelago a few hundred miles north of the Canary Islands. Since Altar of Pain's 2011 debut full-length, "The Ritual Has Begun," the band has wasted no time in putting out this follow-up EP, "Severe Scourge." Altar of Pain possibly had too much material for "The Ritual Has Begun" after all the demo tracks, thus having more songs in the shape of this EP.

"Severe Scourge" contains seven songs and shows that same high degree of polish that their earlier material has. Its sound is solid technical death metal that makes for a brutal listening experience due to the good elements of songwriting. "Fatal Disease" prevails as a speaker-leveling opus since its guitars and drums have their own distinct rhythmic flow and don't just follow each other. The breezy intro and sublime guitar interludes in this track are added bonuses. Altar of Pain brings in a session drummer while recording, usually the band's friend Gabrielle, and he does a pretty decent job. Sometimes the blast beating gets overdone or the percussion gets too high in the mix, but overall, the sound is good.

Altar of Pain is known for its complex compositions and this EP further reinforces that. "Death by Exsanguination" is a song with dizzying variety that knows how to stagger the movements in the song and make it interesting. The lightning-fast cadence gives way to nice breakdowns, trading back and forth until arriving at the stampeding climax. The vocals keep you intrigued as well, with Elder Abreu trading higher-pitched wails with growls in songs like "Infected," further keeping the listener engaged in the song with ambient guitar leads that give way to double bass drumming, all in the scope of one song. "Severe Scourge" also leads off into an instrumental, "Void Dimension," which is high-octane rhythm until settling into a controlled storm at the end.

"Organic Pathogen" is another assault of the double bass, which blends the rhythm and vocals well. I especially liked the cool muted leads halfway through this lengthy song. "The Fleshless Goddess" has a catchy beat that chugs along in a dense wall of sound that infuses life into this song and others. Besides the eastern sounding leads in "Scriptorium," there are moments in the song when the blast beats seem uninspired and simplistic. This happens here and there in some of the songs, and I suppose some segments are bound to have elements of filler here and there. You'll find that anywhere, though. It's hard to be continually creative on a regular basis no matter how good you are.

With their second release, Altar of Pain further drives home how capable they are, which is not an easy feat for a band this new. "Severe Scourge" is a very good technical death metal offering for those who like style and force. It picks up seamlessly where the first album left off and delivers the goods.

Highs: A deadly dose of technical metal delivered with a wall of sound

Lows: Some elements of filler and areas where the production could be better

Bottom line: A second release that picks up nicely from where the debut left off.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)