Alltar Stream Hallowed LP in Full; Album out This Week

Posted in audiObelisk on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan


Portland, Oregon, post-metallers Alltar — also stylized as A//TAR, as on their logo/cover art — will release their debut album, Hallowed, through Monochord Records this Friday, Sept. 6. The initial offering from the band that also comprises three-fifths of recently-discussed noisemakers Hound the Wolves — those being vocalist, Moog-ist Juan Carlos Caceres, guitarist/sampler Tim Burke and drummer Nate WrightColin Hill plays guitar and Sean Frederick plays bass on the recording and has since been replaced by Casey Braunger — is made up of four songs that run a very vinyl-friendly 35 minutes and brings forth Isis-style hypnotic march and atmospheric spread, dug into with volume trades that remind of Rwake‘s later work with a sense of volatility that seems to revel in never quite letting the listener know when the tension is going to pay off. With everything but vocals recorded and mixed by Fester at Caravan Studios, Haywire Studios, and the Hypercube and vocals helmed by Jeanot Lewis-Rolland at JLR Audio Productions and mastering by Ryan Foster at Foster Mastering, it is straightforward in its arrangements to be positioning itself as a root form of post-metal, bringing the aesthetic full circle and back to its cerebral roots in churning rhythms and shifts between deeply-weighted contemplation and voluminous sway and crash.

The album breaks cleanly into two vinyl sides with two songs apiece, the second longer than the first by about five minutes, but all the more immersive for that. The relative brevity of what Alltar do here — as a style that essentially began with Neurosis in the late ’90s and early ’00s, a pattern of CD-era album lengths for post-metal has been set as a tenet of the subgenre — makes Hallowed effective at creating the impression of playing to essential elements. That’s not to say the record is simple in arrangement or execution, with Moog and samples here and there, spoken word on the 11-minute side A closer “War Altar” and side B opener “Induction” and loud/quiet trades across the span, but that neither is it an effects wash, and the guitars of Hill and Burke are plainly more interested in crunch than sprawl. There’s no post-rock float, and even in the windy intro to opener “Horology,” the quiet stretch is more about creating tension ahead of the punch to come, and the same goes for the Moog-laced beginning of closer “Spoils,” though alltar hallowedthe latter might be as close as they come, even if it’s offset by the slowest and hardest-bashing crash to be found on the record.

It’s interesting to note the idea of worship in what Alltar are doing. Their moniker, for example. “All,” and “altar,” together. And calling their first record Hallowed would seem to be underscoring the point. Their music itself, while of a lineage with the aforementioned Isis and of course that band’s forebears in Neurosis and their many acolytes, is made all the more distinct through this notion, but the prevailing vibe of the tracks themselves is more mournful than celebratory. That’s true as Caceres shifts between clean singing and shouts throughout and even as “Spoils” churn-chugs to its ultimate conclusion, following up on the charged design of “War Altar” in a way that feels conceptual. Alltar, then, seem to be calling more into question in terms of who we are and what we choose to worship. This is a decidedly American ideal: the crafting of identity through reconciliation with history either personal or cultural, and if Alltar‘s scope is set to encompass, well, everything, then it seems only fair to call that ambitious as an understatement and remain impressed at the sense of focus they nonetheless conjure throughout their well-plotted material, delivered with what sounds like a burgeoning sense of patience.

And normally, this is the part where I’d say I expect that sense of patience to come more to the fore their next time out, but frankly, I don’t. Alltar‘s Hallowed has been sitting on the proverbial shelf for nearly two years since it was recorded as the band dealt with label issues — Monochord Records is their own and also put out Hound the Wolves, so technically this is a self-release — and I would think that the pent up frustration, one way or another, would manifest in their next batch of songs, or at least in parts should they keep up the loud/quiet trades one finds throughout these four tracks. All the same, it will be interesting to hear as they move forward just in what fashion they do, how their arrangements grow and flourish and in what manner they build on the solid foundation they’ve given themselves to work from here in theme and style. I’ll reserve any further speculation so as to prevent feeling like a jackass later when I’m so very wrong, but take the intrigue as a sign that whatever Alltar do as a sequel will be worth chasing down to find out where they end up.

They’re on tour later in September out west, and you’ll find those dates under the full stream of Hallowed below, as well as some more background from the PR wire.

I hope you enjoy:

alltar tour

Founded by guitarist Tim Burke (also of Hound The Wolves) in 2016, the band has developed through a careful, deliberate evolution to reach its perfect lineup with Juan Carlos Caceres (vocals, Moog), Nate Wright (drums), Colin Hill (guitar, samples) and Casey Braunger (bass.) With the same deliberation, the band spent the latter half of 2017 recording their 4-song debut album at 3 different studios in Portland, then mixing and mastering in Spring 2018. A record label came into the picture soon thereafter, though the album release was held up as the label’s funds were scarce. Eventually, the label folded and the band wrestled back their masters, choosing to self-release, now well into 2019.

“Upon the A//TAR we place our past,” the band declares. “Through the triumphs and tribulations of human-kind. From the technical and artistic birth of society’s achievements in art and technology, as well as the rise of power, war, destruction, and the control of humanity. Through the inevitable dark decay and cold loss, our music is inspired.”

Tracked by Jeanot Lewis-Rolland at the Magic Closet and JLR Audio Productions. Mixed by Fester. Mastered by Ryan Foster at Foster Mastering. Hallowed will be available on CD and download on September 6th, 2019. Pre-orders are available HERE.

A//TAR LIVE 2019:
09/04 Portland, OR @ Dante’s
09/20 Eugene, OR @ Sessions’ Lounge
09/21 Boise, ID @ The Shredder
09/22 Reno, NV @ TBA
09/23 Sacramento, CA @ On The Y
09/24 San Jose, CA @ The Ritz
09/25 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon
09/26 Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull
09/28 Seattle, WA @ The Highline
10/05 Portland, OR @ Twilight Bar

A//TAR is:
Tim Burke – Guitar, Samples
Juan Carlos Caceres – Vocals, Moog, Spoken Word
Casey Braunger – Bass
Nate Wright – Drums
Colin Hill – Guitar

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Monochord Records on Bandcamp

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