While a lot of doom metal acts these days have either harsh vocals, sludgy riffs, or a gothic edge, there are still bands out there interested in reliving the glory days of epic doom metal. Denmark's Altar of Oblivion is one such band, and their clear influence from acts like Candlemass, Solitude Aeternus, and Black Sabbath is likely to satisfy fans of straight-up doom without any modern gimmicks. The band's second album, Grand Gesture of Defiance, should greatly appeal to fans of seventies' and eighties' metal; whilst it may not be the most groundbreaking album you'll hear this year, the solid musicianship and epic compositions make this an enjoyable listen from start to finish.
As previously mentioned, most of Grand Gesture of Defiance's sound rests in pretty traditional epic doom metal. Bands like Candlemass, St. Vitus, Solitude Aeternus, and Black Sabbath are obvious points of reference, but Altar of Oblivion also has a traditional metal edge (think Judas Priest) to keep things from getting slow and monotonous. Some of the melodies are also clearly influenced by Scandinavian folk music, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise considering the band's Danish heritage. Epic tracks like "In the Shadow of the Gallows" and "Final Perfection" are fine examples of old school doom metal done right, and I think Altar of Oblivion is a group of some really solid composers and musicians. Mik Mentor's vocals have an operatic, funeral dirge-type infliction that will likely bring the iconic Ozzy Osbourne to mind - not a bad thing at all when we're talking about a doom metal record, and the rest of the band also delivers solid performances. Those melodic guitar solos are especially noteworthy - there are a lot of tasty leads to be found here!
Grand Gesture of Defiance is a respectable effort across the board; Altar of Oblivion exhibits a clear artistic purpose on this observation, the production is raw and powerful, the musicianship is great, and the compositions are solid. If I do have one minor complaint, it's that this album is short - at only 34 minutes, this is a bit skimpy for a full-length release, although the quality of the music is high from start to finish. Folks who are only casual fans of epic doom metal won't be converted by Grand Gesture of Defiance, but those looking to relive doom metal's glory days certainly can't go wrong with this one.
1. Where Darkness Is Light
2. The Graveyard of Broken Dreams
3. In the Shadow of the Gallows
4. The Smoke-Filled Room
5. Sentenced in Absentia
6. Final Perfection