Review: Altars Of The Moon ‘The Colossus And The Widow’

It’s been quiet on the Disorder Recordings front of late and the last thing I recall reviewing from them was Lotus Thrones’ sophomore album The Heretic Souvenir back in March this year. Imagine my delight then when I saw the news that a new album by Covid era formed ‘supergroup’ Altars Of The Moon was dropping.

Altars Of The Moon 'The Colossus And The Widow' Artwork
Altars Of The Moon ‘The Colossus And The Widow’ Artwork

The band’s original trio of Nate Verschoor (guitar/synth), Jeff Wilson (bass/guitar/synth) and Heath Rave (vocals) has been expanded to include drummer Alan Cassidy, as well as guest appearances from Mac Gollehon and Bruce Lamont. Considering I had described the band’s debut Brahmastra as ‘a fascinating collaboration which warrants your undivided attention’, my expectations this time round were thus high. No pressure then.

The Signal could be described as progressive psychedelia with Neurosis post-metal touches, especially now retired (for good reason) vocalist Scott Kelly. The sense of expansiveness that is evoked by the track really makes it an ideal way with which to open this much anticipated album. Superb. G.O.D. Initiative takes a much darker route with elements reminding you of early ‘90s black metal of the Norwegian variety. It has a lo-fi feel as well as a depressive, emotional quality that proves irresistibly intoxicating to the listener.

The Drift is an instrumental that is transcendental in nature, the nods to dream pop and shoegaze are evident making for both a pretty and engaging piece, which is aptly titled as you really do sense yourself drifting off into another dimension. Divine. Supermassive Black (Hole In My Heart..) is the album’s longest number at over seven minutes and mixes the band’s two key genre influences (shoegaze and black metal) together supremely well, to forge its modern day equivalent blackgaze. So, if bands such as Alcest, Deafheaven and their ilk do it for you, there’s a very good chance you’ll appreciate what Altars Of The Moon are going for here.

if bands such as Alcest, Deafheaven and their ilk do it for you, there’s a very good chance you’ll appreciate what Altars Of The Moon are going for here…

What follows are two more instrumentals, first The Longing which follows a similar path to The Drift but with the addition of sax and trumpet courtesy of Bruce Lamont and Mac Gollehon respectively, I was also reminded of The Chameleons new wave atmospherics as well as the gloriously eerie eccentric ambience of the first Twin Peaks series. The Vestible continues the noir jazz goodness that could be found on some of Rave‘s Lotus Thrones output as well as the kind of thing you would expect to find on the brilliant Signora Ward label; Last Call At Nightowls especially. Obviously, this was always going to appeal to yours truly and surprise surprise, it did.

First Contact Protocol sees the welcome return of Rave‘s baritone gothic vocals and a track that is, on the whole, a good deal heavier. Its doom laden droney vibes scream Earth, particularly the current day incarnation, it’s that good. The Sentient marks the album’s fourth and final instrumental, it’s also the most outwardly shoegaze sounding track on the album as if it came straight from Slowdive’s Souvlaki. Existence Invalid recalls the sludge of Crowbar as well as more recent bands such as Lotus Thrones Seeing Red label mates False Gods. A crushingly satisfying way to conclude the album.

As excellent as Brahmastra was, it always gave the impression of the band being a one-off project, and as intonated at the beginning of the review, I was surprised (albeit pleasantly so) to hear the band had a new record coming out. The Colossus And The Widow feels fully realised, that is to say, a more serious prospect which, by extension, marks the band out as a true force to be reckoned with.

Label: Disorder Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills