Review Summary: The album fails to punch it up that extra notch when it's necessary to do so, leaving most of the songs feeling uninspired and stale.
There is something to be said for groove-laden metal music these days. With all of the genre-melding, it's more difficult to find musicians that value grooves and riffs over complex songwriting. Obviously those things are not mutually exclusive in any way; bands like Mastodon
prove that unequivocally. Lord Dying are attempting to bring heavy metal back to its more simplistic roots with Poisoned Altars
, an effort that proves to be as imaginative as their band name. That's not to say that this album's formula is inherently bad, but it has been done by many better bands in the past. Poisoned Altars
is rife with a dedication to riffs, monotone screams, and an overall exhaustive repetition that gets worse as it progresses. By the time that the listener gets to the groan-inducing introduction to "Darkness Remains", they have heard the same song seven times before with little to no variation. However, the little flourishes that do flare up are a welcome respite to the similarities present here; the clean vocals courtesy of Aaron Beam (of Red Fang fame) on "An Open Sore" provide some much-needed variation, but the six-minute run time feels bloated and causes an otherwise good song to falter. The minor-key shredding coupled with the drums fills in the beginning of "Offering Pain" yields an excellent thirty seconds, but then there is a transition to the same boring mid-paced groove that we hear all album. This happens time and time again on this album; new ideas are introduced but never fully fleshed out, leaving the end product feeling hollow and boring.
Ultimately, this album doesn't fail because of a lack of talent. At times, the guitars are absolutely crushing, the drums are technical but not overly so, and the roaring vocals do well on some songs despite the limited range. It's the jarring transitions in the songwriting that spell boredom for the listener. The album fails to punch it up that extra notch when it's necessary to do so, leaving most of the songs feeling uninspired and stale. Lord Dying have the ingredients needed to create a monolithic beast of an album; unfortunately, this falls far short of an engaging listen. Poisoned Altars
is indicative of a band that will need to step outside of their comfort zone in order to create an exciting album, but the album also proves that the band have the chops necessary to create something worthwhile in the future.