Demo:listen: Malignant Altar

Malignant Altar appeared on the scene like an eruptive volcano rising up from the earth’s mantle overnight. Their entrance into the death metal underground was by no means subtle, and how could it have been with a demo like Retribution of Jealous Gods? Three songs that dropped so hard I wouldn’t be surprised if some people even purchased the tape twice, not realizing they’d bought it already, so severe was their head trauma after that initial jam.

According to Beau Beasley, Malignant Altar’s founding member and guitarist, it all began when he and Malignant Altar’s vocalist Wilson “started working together and later saw each other at a metal fest . . . called Destroying Texas.”

Beau, who also played in Insect Warfare, remembers: “I was like ‘Oh, so you’re the guy in the Sodom shirt at work?’ After that we started talking a lot while working and he began showing me all these newer death metal bands and I was really blown away by a lot of it. I hadn’t played guitar in about 8 years and he really started busting my balls about it and after enough of that I drug my guitar out and tried writing some songs and that pretty much got us to where we are at this point. When we started I actually had him trying to sing over some kind of Mortician style goregrind I had recorded right after the break up of Insect Warfare but I just felt it was time to try something new so we slowed it way down. Wilson and I are the only members not in other bands but luckily the other dudes, while heavily committed, are fully into what we are trying to do as a band.”

Beau goes on to say that he came up with Malignant Altar’s perfectly callused and demented moniker while “reading some Stephen King short stories one night[.]”

“[In] one story he mentioned demons congregating at some type of malignant altar and it grabbed my attention,” Beau recalls. “I kind of kicked it around a while before I brought it up with Wilson. Luckily he liked it because I really liked the imagery it generated in my head when thinking of what a Malignant Altar might look like. Also, the initials are MA like Morbid Angel so that pretty much sealed the deal for me.”  

Beau says he wrote the “majority of [Retribution of Jealous Gods] because the other guys [drummer Dobber Beverly, bassist Mat Aleman, and second guitarist Josh Bokemeyer] didn’t really come on til later. It was just drums, vocals, and guitars til we figured out who we are going to get in the band. However, when we eventually brought Josh and Mat in the songwriting process really sped up. This is the first time I have written with someone else and I’m really starting to see the benefits. In the past I always wrote everything with my old bands and I can definitely see some heavy one-sidedness to how those records sound. It’s also really cool showing things to other people and seeing if they think it is garbage or not.”

According to the demo’s liner notes, Retribution of Jealous Gods was recorded back in January of this year at “the House of Thorns.” Beau explains that the House of Thorns “is a studio run by [Malignant Altar’s] drummer Dobber.”

“He did all the recording, mixing, and mastering of the demo,” Beau explains. “I feels he’s got a really good ear for that kind of shit and we just kind of let him to do what he thought was best. He grew up listening to all the evil shit we are trying emulate so it was kind of a no-brainer . . . I’m really happy with how the guitar tones came out and am especially happy with the vocals which Dobber had a strong hand in . . . what you might call a producer’s role.”

We got Beau to give us a track-by-track breakdown of the demo. Check it out!

According to Beau, the demo’s opener, the title track, contains “the second riff Josh [Bokemeyer, guitarist] brought in after he joined the band.”

“We were screwing around playing guitar and he kind of busted that one out and I knew instantly it was a crusher. We tweaked it a little bit and felt it was a strong opener. It’s also a 7 minute long song and would weed out any people who wouldn’t understand the overall picture of what we are trying to do.”

For “Spectral Revulsion”—which just got its own run of long sleeves—Beau says: “I brought that opening riff in as a kind of noodly thing that was supposed to be both guitars in unison and with a blast beat underneath but someone (I can’t remember who) mentioned we should chop the time in half with a strong back beat and it just sounded heavy as fuck. This kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about having outside opinions. I wouldn’t have come up with that but it turned out being my favorite part on the record.”

The demo closer, “Nephelim Burial:”

“The opening riff was me trying to emulate that early Cannibal Corpse trill guitar thing they do,” Beau admits. “I always thought that was the sickest shit as a kid and when I figured out how to do it I always tried to slip it in whenever I could. The rest of it is heavy on the Morbid Angel ‘Gateways’ sound. Josh and I fucking worship that record so there’s a lot of times those types of riffs ooze their way into what we are trying to do. The outro keyboard riff is a total tribute to our local Houston Satanic death metal pioneers Imprecation [HAILS!]. It’s a true test to see if you can put a keyboard overtop of a crushing riff and see if it still holds its power. They were always able to do that and I wanted to see if we could pull it off. There are going to be a few more keyboard parts on the LP during the doom parts.”

Malignant Altar’s world-ending demo is not actually their debut. In true underground fashion, the Texas-based quintet had a rehearsal demo ready to sell at their first show. Named after one of the tracks from the tape, “Ceremonial Decapitator,” predates the demo by a month. It’s got the title track, a track from Retribution (“Nephilim Burial”), and a rehearsal recording of “Procreation of the Wicked.”

“[‘Ceremonial Decapitator’] was written after the demo tracks,” Beau explains. “We just put up a mic in the room and did a rehearsal recording of it and ‘Procreation of the Wicked’ by Celtic Frost to use for a short run tape to be sold at our first show. The song will be re-recorded with 4 other tracks when it comes time to do the LP. I’m pretty stoked on these new tracks. They have a lot of things we were doing on the demo but with more faster parts and blasting. I feel it’s a little more well rounded than the demo.”

Flyer for the first Malignant Altar show on February 2nd, 2019.

The first run of “Ceremonial Decapitator” tapes sold out, but so did the second run the band put up for sale like a week ago. So good luck on getting your claws on one of those. 

“Between the two tapes,” according to Beau, meaning the rehearsal demo and the demo proper, Malignant Altar have moved “about 400 copies” so far.

“We did the first pressing [of Retribution of Jealous Gods] and now Maggot Stomp is doing the US second pressing with the Other Records in Finland doing the European pressing. Maggot Stomp have copies for sale on their Bandcamp and The Other is not far behind.”

Malignant Altar will soon record their debut LP, Realms of Exquisite Morbidity. Beau says fans can expect “more low tuned death.”

“We are really trying to push ourselves to kind of write songs that really reflect all the records we listened to growing up and channeling that into what we are doing. I’ve been studying a handful of records and really trying to see why I liked them so much and what makes them so heavy. Also, more amazing artwork from Lucas Korte aka Shoggoth Kinetics who also did our logo and demo cover. The new piece he has for our LP is mind-bending.”

Besides recording the forthcoming LP, Beau says Malignant Altar are looking forward to playing more shows.

“My job is brutal about taking time off so at this point we will just have to do fly outs,” he says. “It will be expensive and we will lose money but we have to play outside Texas. At this moment we are currently lining up a weekend thing in California with the help of Maggot Stomp. Scott from MS is seriously one of the hardest working guys in the scene right now and he is really going out of his way to help us with things like this. Here’s hoping to see the more of the Los Angeles death metal scene next year!”