- Red Brick Army
- The Coward
Facedown Records is one of the labels that I found a comfortable place with as an early teen eager to find the next new heavy Christian act. Every new signing they would make, I would instantly run out to the local Christian bookstore and purchase their record, each band becoming my new favorite. However, as of late, I have not really been having the same feelings towards Facedown’s newer signings. While I wouldn’t say I dislike them, most of the new bands do not consistently make their way into my rotation. With that being said, I still have always liked to keep an eye on the upcoming bands in the Strike First and Facedown families, always hopeful for something new that would win my heart over. Last year Altars caught my attention with their debut Strike First release of “Opposition”. The EP served it’s purpose as something to whet my appetite and keep me interesting in the band.
Now, one year later, Alters has been moved up to Facedown Records to fill the void left by the departure of heavy hitters like Impending Doom and For Today and have unleashed their debut full length, Conclusions. The only questions is: Does Altars deserve to be moved up with the big boys, or was their move something Facedown did just to flesh their roster out? I have come to the conclusion (pardon my pun), that Altars is here to stay and become a fan favorite for their passionate outpouring of melodic hardcore.
The thing that instantly caught my attention about Altars was their ability to balance their ruthless heaviness with intricate melody. This is a line many bands attempt to walk, but unfortunately end up coming off with senseless chugging with some simple leads and singing thrown in for good measure. Altars however have a great mix of blood-curdling breakdowns, complex leads, topped with intimidating growls and gruff cleans.
If you are looking to get a feel for exactly what Conclusions is all about, one only needs to take a listen to “Scum”. This song gives a great overall look at what Altars has to offer with fast, aggressive music with an underlying melody. Plus, it is almost impossible not to yell, “I am the scum of the earth and I am redeemed!” during the final breakdown of the song. With that all being said, the first real eye opening moment of this record came about half way through “The Coward” when the heaviness came to a screeching halt, making way for a delay-soaked, bass-heavy, groove that had me smiling and head bobbing instantly as vocalist Cannan Smith proclaims boldly, “My faith has nothing to do with eyes that look upon me”. “Unknowing” is a track that is sure to be a fan favorite in a live setting as it is fast and heavy, using an aggressive punk beat in the chorus with the some of the catchiest singing on the record. “Montreal” was the single gaining the most attention from fans online before the release of Conclusions, and rightfully so. The track starts off with a breakdown with a very good guitar effect layered on top of it, making for a really interesting sound. Once the song starts picking up steam, Cannan Smith proves his worth as he flawlessly transitions from rough, throaty singing to powerful growling as the rest of the band instrumentally follows suit. “Shepherds” is a track that is inherently heavy the whole way through but retains a melody throughout with the rhythm guitar, leading up to hands down the best breakdown on the album.
For as solid as this impressive debut album was, Conclusions is not without fault. My biggest issue was the lack of diversity in a few of the songs that did not really stand out from the others. Songs like “Lower” and “Revelation”, for example just never stood out and became background music. Even some of the stronger tracks on the record had the potential to slip into blandness if the listener is not paying full attention. Another “fault” I found with the album was the interesting instrumentals. While, I thought that “Portlen” and “Ryland” sounded very cool and deserved a spot on the album, I felt that perhaps they could have been combined into one track so that the album would not have to come to a screeching halt twice.
Overall: Altars has helped restore my faith in Facedown Records with their seemingly average signings lately. Although Conclusions is nothing extremely out of the norm, it is an incredibly solid and fun record that any fan of hardcore or metalcore should really be able to sink their teeth into. I am very much looking forward to what these young men will unleash in the future!
RIYL: Hundredth, Gideon, As Hell Retreats