Demo:listen: Charnel Altar

Charnel Altar’s untitled four song demo was posted on Bandcamp over a month ago, but it wasn’t until recently that the Australian trio and their pitch-black death chaos was brought to our attention here at Demo:listen HQ.

“We all used to play in a death doom band called Tombsealer, in which we released a couple of EPs and a split,” the band writes. “[B]y 2017 we had about 45 minutes of material ready to record for a full length. As we were about to embark on an Australian tour with Sewercide (RIP), a curse hit and everything slowly fell apart. We played a couple final shows (including a fucking wild one here in Adelaide with FETID) and ended it after that. After about half a year the urges set in and we got back together jamming, albeit in a reduced format. This time though we focused on creating something far heavier and suffocating through the unique Antipodean death and black metal lens.”
“Most of our material is written together by jamming and letting ideas grow organically,” the band continues. “We’ve played together for maybe five or six years now, so instinctively we know how each other plays. It took us about six or so months to write most of the demo, which we trialled at a few live shows before recording.”

Charnel Altar’s demo is a bewildering and beleaguering experience unlike few other records you’ll have the displeasure of enduring. Those few bands that come to mind when listening to Charnel Altar are also, not coincidentally, from Australia.

Charnel Altar confirm: “Some of the bigger influences on our music (from fellow countrymen and those across the Tasman) would be the likes of Vassafor, Grave Upheaval, Temple Nightside, Vesicant, Impetuous Ritual, Heresiarch and the infamous Aethyrvorous demo. All of those bands are unique and brutal in their own right but have a sound or atmosphere that is seemingly found predominantly in this part of the world.”
The band says that when they were writing this monster, they approached it with the whole experience in mind.

“We are all believers in albums as a whole instead of single tracks. As a result we paid a lot of attention to getting the songs to run together, initially as part of a live set, instead of focusing on individual songs.”

Charnel Altar goes on to discuss recording their demo at Twin Earth Studio.

“Jon at Twin Earth is a wizard with total mastery over his domain. He’s very laid back and very knowledgeable. If anyone else in South Australia is looking for somewhere to record then Jon is definitely recommended. Total support.

“The songs were written with the live environment in mind, instead of thinking about how they would sound recorded. Our goal for live shows is to be loud and overwhelming, with churning riffs and total death. Fuck click tracks. I think we got pretty close to that, especially with the work that Jon and Dan Lowndes (mastering) put in. Everything was basically laid down in a day and then we spent some time getting the mix right.”
Even though many of us are just hearing of them, Charnel Altar have already begun spreading their evil death throughout South Australia.

“So far we have played a couple of live shows. The first was opening for Uada on their Australian tour and then a local show which included our South Australian black metal brethren, Endless Loss. We’re also playing over in Melbourne in April. The first show is with Primitive Man and the second show is with a bunch of the newer maniacal death metal bands from Melbourne (Faceless Burial, Vile Apparition, Gutless and the aforementioned Endless Loss). After that, our next show in Adelaide is with the venerable Incantation.” Charnel Altar’s demo will be available on cassette format soon from New Mexico’s Desert Wastelands Productions.

“We also have some plans for a vinyl release that are being worked through,” the band adds. “Hopefully we will be able to announce more about that soon.”