Primal instincts are a funny thing—and even in spite of how “civilized” we pride ourselves on being, each and every one of us still, to some degree boast them. After all, it’s the holiday season—or, perhaps by the time you read this, was the holiday season—and there is hardly a more fitting time of year to discuss it. Because every time you find yourself at your family reunion, your significant other’s family reunion, a work get together or taking a break from an exhaustive holiday shopping fiasco, that instinctual need to gorge for fear of starvation takes over.
AlterBeast—a critically acclaimed technical death metal outfit from Sacramento—give you a different sort of means to feed your gluttony with their aptly named 2018 full length release, Feast. Laden with insane percussion, over-the-top fretwork and unholy vocal prowess, even the most lusting and gluttonous appetites got absurd heaviness will find themselves satiated by the band’s most recent effort. Comprehensive in its approach to deliver aggression in all forms, Feast is just that—a true smorgasbord for the ears—and the perfect way to kick in 2018’s doors.
Feast is a truly ferocious experience—relentless from start to finish and determined to deliver raw, ravenous energy in the context of a crushing contemporary technical death metal album. From the first raunchy seconds of “Welcome to Your Doom,” through “Vile Skin Possession” and “Where Dead Angels Lie” until the crushing, climactic moments of “Upon the Face of the Deep,” AlterBeast are a cohesive unit, working together brilliantly to blend technicality and brutality. Percussionist Gabe Seeber sets the album’s breakneck pace, rattling off machine-gun blast beats and skin-shredding fills—heard at their best throughout “Feast,” and the devilish album opener, “Welcome to Your Doom.” Here, Seeber is nothing short of breathtaking, as is throughout much of Feast—even during the (relatively) mellow moments that emerge towards the album’s end. Where Seeber refuses to slow down, the listener will hear no complaints from bassist Michael Zamora, who rumbles along with skill and speed both, providing a gritty, grisly low end for immense, anthemic numbers like “Apex Night Eclipse.” Seeber and Zamora are a dynamic duo and give AlterBeast the blistering firmament guitarists Rusty Cornell and Andrew Lamb need to do what they do best—riff and shred until the listener’s ears are pulp and their brains are mush. Blended with dirging, pseudo-slamming moments, Cornell and Lamb spend much of Feast letting loose with dizzying displays of dynamic fretwork, heard abundantly in “Welcome to Your Doom” and “The Maggot’s Ascension,” and, really, everywhere in Feast. Cornell and Lamb are incredibly talented—there isn’t, in truth, anything more that can be said in words that isn’t better experienced with ears.
Perhaps the greatest testament and compliment one can give to AlterBeast’s frontman isn’t one praising his range, but rather that he effortlessly keeps pace with the group’s incredible speed. Vocalist Cam Rogers is plenty talented—in everything from articulation to endurance to candor and range—but his ability to keep pace with songs like “Welcome to Your Doom” or “Apex Night Eclipse” is what really blows the listener away. Rogers is ruthless, with vicious, insatiable lust for carnage and intensity aplenty, and the entirety of Feast is proof positive of it. Where the title track sees him burning through syllables a mile-per-minute, The album’s back half sees more melody and atmosphere work its way into the dynamic, and Rogers adapts, sounding just as evil with a more refined and clear meter. Whether it’s speed, range, tone or energy, AlterBeast couldn’t have a better fit for a frontman than they do with Rogers.
Feast is excellent. Where it does present a figurative “learning curve” for those not as well versed in the realm of technicality, it remains a relatively accessible album, even for breakdown junkies and slamaholics. Where there are few chugs and a lack of corny one-liners on Feast, there are countless moments of magnificent intensity and brilliant technicality meeting in a head-on clash with melody that fans of pretty much anything extreme or heavy will be able to find themselves lost in. So, true, while 2018 will still be young and nubile upon the release of Feast, AlterBeast waste no time in setting the bar high.
For Fans Of: Archspire, The Black Dahlia Murder, Cattle Decapitation
By: Connor Welsh