Hailing from Belgium, Black Metal duo ALASTHOR formed in 2003. Having released a demo, a few singles and two EPs; this year they’ve released their third EP entitled Mahapralaya.
I have a very checkered history with black metal personally. When I was sixteen, I did nothing but look for the most obnoxious and underground black metal I could find. Usually the production was terrible, but it was raw and fast, I loved it. Bands such as DEATHSPELL OMEGA, NOKTURNAL MORTUM and 1349 were a few of my go to bands.
This four track EP starts with Possessed By The Goddess. It’s straight into the raw, relentless speed I used to confide in so much in my earlier years. Unlike a lot of those bands, the production on this EP is actually pretty good, the guitars are not ear-piercingly high EQ’d as I would usually expect. It’s actually a very listenable mix, I’m uncertain if the drums are real but they at least sound good. As an opener this song is ruthless, very much in line with the older style of 1349, very nice!
On their YouTube channel, they’ve remixed and remastered this song too. I personally thought the mix was fine but it definitely sounds more present here.
Riders of The Dark Scales starts rather ominously, with that classic first wave BM style. It’s nothing new but it’s at least done nicely, the pace changes go back and forth but at least it gives you a chance to catch your breath. One thing I did notice and this is only a minor point. When the blast beasts kick back in about half way through, the overheads drown out the mix a little but it’s only brief. The riff choices are pretty unique as well. In the really fast sections, they’re what you would expect but everywhere else its very different. I’m not sure if I like them a lot but they’re original at least, it’s a solid song in all.
Track three is Nahash and it’s more of the same ruthless speed. I’m pretty certain by now they do use a drum machine, because if someone tried to play blast beats for this long their arms would burn to ashes. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with using a drum machine. (I also use them.) But I think in places of this song, some of the faster blast beasts don’t come across as very organic. I honestly think the slower parts in cases are better, the tempo is very raw, very fast and non-stop carnage. It’s not a bad song, but it didn’t really stand out.
Finally, we have Neuronal Injection which for me is the stand out song. It’s not just going at a million miles an hour for the sake of it. It’s set apart from the other songs for me personally because of this, I love a good blast beat, but in moderation. The end of this song is where it comes alive, a mixture triplet chug sections into raw speed, as we approach the finishing line. I really enjoyed this section but it’s disappointing that it isn’t till now that I can say I’m really digging this EP.
What I will say is that for a black metal duo, they’re mix is great. Innovation as far as the black metal vibes go are sporadic but definitely present. This EP wasn’t bad by a long shot but it didn’t really grip me either.
Words: Ashley Thompson
Riders Of The Dark Scales is out now.
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