The guttural, sludgy death metal of Texas’s Malignant Altar meeting the gloomy majesty of Moscow’s Gosudar seems like a meeting of arcane giants. Albeit quite different arcane giants. Both bands have a roster of veteran musicians. Malignant Altar features members from heavyweights such as Necrofier, Church Of Disgust and Coffin Grinder on their resumes. While Gosudar boast Tarpan and The Occult as backgrounds.
Gosudar have an excellent demo and crushing album – Morbid Despotic Ritual – to their name. Sergey Milenin and Vadim Ivanov share vocals and guitar duties, creating the writhing wall of low-tuned riffs that has set them apart since they appeared in 2018. These guys are outstanding at writing complex tracks that shift from shredding and grinding, to trudging cavernous chords. As Yngwie Malmsteen once said ‘more is more’ and Gosudar know this, but put it through their own tortuous kaleidoscope.
The first track Mortified Transformation is huge for an opener, clocking in at over ten minutes and it is a very well titled track. We begin with the relatively accessible slow and gloomy trudge, but gradually Gosudar build up the momentum leading to a morass of sinister tremolo picking and ghastly grooves. This is almost a strange, organic kind of progressive, cold and grimy death metal.
A large part of this feel comes down to drummer Renat Kurmakaev whose crust credentials really pay dividends, keeping the shifts in energy and atmosphere firmly in their places. On the second track, Domination Of Irreality, he moves nimbly around the kit from hard cymbal and snare hits into feel-heavy splashy passages, producing waves of filth that crash down only to build back up into buzzing, echoing sections again. You do feel like you’re going mad yet enjoying the process.
death metal perfection from both bands…
Moving from Gosudar to Malignant Altar is like moving from the mausoleum to the charnel house. From dirty, obscure grimness to wild, barbarousness. Malignant Altar have an incredible track record, their demo, Retribution Of Jealous Gods and last year’s album, Realms Of Exquisite Morbidity, both raised the bar for the resurgent old school death metal sound.
As it is, Texan death metal is a world apart – a bit like the cosmic death-doom coming out of Colorado. It’s always raw, always savage, however Malignant Altar have slowed the pace a bit to draw out the chugs and feedback to make something as horrible as the cover of this record promises. First track Malfeasance (Inexorable Enmity) is quite straightforward, but Malignant Altar do inject their own brand of derangement via tightly controlled guitar leads.
Similar to Cannibal Corpse, these guys are a massive rhythm unit; drummer Bobber Beverly keeps a near-constant double kick patter in the background that the guitars weave in and out of with precision. When the guitar departs to bring a bit of colour, they always come back in together heavier than before. This is especially the case when they slow down the pace to bring some of the heaviest moments on the record.
The vocals, handled expertly by Wilson P, feel like they’re treated like one of the guitars on Malfeasance. It’s good, however, you hear him with a bit more space on the excellent Imprecation cover The Awakening Of The Majestic Darkness. It’s a faithful reimagining (which isn’t very easy in reality), but you can’t go wrong combining these two bands. Malignant Altar set a standard for covers, since they did Procreation Of The Wicked by Celtic Frost in 2019 and it was very good so I’m sure Imprecation would be proud as well.
The Gosudar and Malignant Altar Split EP is a fantastic release, death metal perfection from both bands.
Scribed by: James Bullock