Portland’s sludge deviants Alltar (also stylised as A//TAR) have been busy promoting their lastest album Live At Ceremony Of Sludge, which will be the released independently on the 12th February. And today, in a call back to their 2019 debut, the four track behemoth Hallowed, the band have unleashed a video for the monstrous track Soil.
Starting out as a simple concept from Alltar members Juan Carlos Caceres (vocals, Moog) and Casey Braunger (bass), the harrowing monochrome videography, produced and directed by Triangles Around Us, captures the band at their most angst, as they crush through a near nine minute mammoth of sludge, doom and post-metal.
More on Alltar, Hallowed & Live At Ceremony Of Sludge
Founded by guitarist Tim Burke (also of Hound The Wolves) in 2016, the band has developed through a careful, deliberate evolution to reach its perfect line-up with Juan Carlos Caceres (vocals, Moog), Nate Wright (drums), Colin Hill (guitar, samples) and Casey Braunger (bass.) With the same deliberation, the band spent the latter half of 2017 recording their four song debut album Hallowed at three different studios in Portland, then mixing and mastering in Spring 2018. A record label came into the picture soon thereafter, though the album release was held up as the label’s funds were scarce. Eventually, the label folded and the band wrestled back their masters, choosing to self-release, now well into 2019.
Alltar then set out a two-fold reminder: one, of the potency behind a doom, sludge, and post-metal blend; and two, of just how good live music will be once it returns. After the successful release of their debut Hallowed, the quintet’s next move is to release a live record commemorating a stunning set at Ceremony of Sludge in their hometown, which saw a stacked bill including Usnea and Brume shake The World Famous Kenton Club back in March.
‘Ceremony of Sluuuuudge, baby!’ comes booming through the speakers from vocalist Juan Carlos Caceres, whose amiable attitude contrasts with both the Ozzy-like wailing and harsher screaming – both of which hitting impressive peaks on War Altar. The lyrics draw from a wide range of topics; in the bands’ words, ‘the triumphs and tribulations of human-kind. From the technical and artistic birth of society’s achievements in art and technology, as well as the rise of power, war, destruction, and the control of humanity.’
One unusual feature of this release is just how damn good the mix is for such a young band in a festival format. Aside from the vocals soaring and shrieking, the drums pop and crash, the bass rumbles with menace, and the cavernous rhythm guitars are hypnotic. The five work seamlessly to stir the genre-melding pot, the contents of which contain pinches of Neurosis’ Souls at Zero, Amenra’s Mass series, latter-day Elder, and Cult of Luna.
The record itself is akin to a beast that awakens – it starts with smooth guitar lines interwoven with Moog synthesizers on Arcana, while by the time Cantilate rolls around, there’s an unfolding crescendo of crunch. And then, just as the audience recovers from the devastating closer, a simple ‘thank you, we’re Alltar, Glasghote is up next’ It’s over in a short space of time, but that’s the beauty of live albums – there’s always the replay button.
02. War Altar
Live At Ceremony Of Sludge Tracklisting:
04. War Altar
05. Ceremony Of Sludge
Nate Wright – Drums
Tim Burke – Guitars, Samples
Colin Hill – Guitars, Samples
Juan Carlos Caceres – Vocals, Moog
Casey Braunger – Bass
‘Upon the A//TAR we place our past, through the triumphs and tribulations of human-kind. From the birth of society’s achievements in art and technology, to the rise of power, war, destruction, and the control of humanity. Through the inevitable dark decay and cold loss, our music is inspired.’
Hallowed and pre-orders for Live At Ceremony Of Sludge, prior to its 12th February release, are available now over on Alltar’s Bandcamp.