Australian death metal trio Altars took their sweet time making their sophomore album, Ascetic Reflection. Arriving nearly nine years after the release of first full-length, Paramnesia, the new album features songwriting and performances that show Altars have lost nothing in their time away, aided in part by the addition of new bassist/vocalist Brendan Sloan (Convulsing).
On the album’s title track, streaming below, Altars lead the listener through a labyrinthine track that takes death metal’s core fundamentals and twists them into a disharmonic, foreboding track that peaks in the song’s final seconds. The dissonant death metal tagline isn’t a new one—artists have been aping Gorguts and Ulcerate since those bands appeared—but Altars make it feel fresh and true. Paired with the band’s lyrics about the human condition and a cover painting from Adam Burke, Ascetic Reflection really is the total package.