Title: Altar of Fear
Genre: Black Metal
Year: 29th August 2017
Time: 47 min
Wow, this "Altar of Fear" is the fifth release by Lilyum reviewed on these pages! For who that know nothing about them, Lilyum is a prolific black metal band from Turin (one of the most beautiful cities of my country also because it's very artistic and full of gigantic squares, the mighty Piazza Castello in primis!) able, in the past, to release amazing albums as "Crawling in the Past" (rating: 94/100) but also some wrong steps like the disappointing "Nothing is Mine" (62/100), always offering a sound with creative ideas. Founded in the now far 2002 even as a groove metal band (!), Lilyum, since 2009, are mainly composed of the mastermind Kosmos Reversum and Lord J.H. Psycho, also if some albums were recorded without the contribution of the latter. Throughout the years, these two maniacs have been helped by other two people very known into the Italian black metal scene: the singer Xes (Infernal Angels, and active in Lilyum between 2011 and 2015) and the hyper-active Sicilian session drummer Frozen, now became a full-time member of this band (and it was finally time, I say!). You have to consider that the previous album, "October's Call", was recorded with a line-up reduced only to Kosmos Reversum and Xes, so this 7th full-lenght called "Altar of Fear", released by the Ukrainian label Vacula Productions, see the the welcome return of both Lord J.H. Psycho and Frozen (without him, Lilyum use a drum-machine in every case) and, in addition, since Xes is out, the vocals of the same Lord J.H. Psycho are finally back to torment your dreams! So, let's go to discover this new effort, that Kosmos Reversum sent to me 5 months ago circa in physical CD (said frankly, the physical copies are and will be always better than the digital ones, now a classic for the reviews).
At first glance, the black metal played by these 3 madmen seems this time to be very traditional: the guitars are freezing and often in tremolo-picking (the main riffs are supported, with a good frequency, by a lead guitar with apocalyptic tunes), the drums are mostly fast (but NEVER in a true blast-beat-style throughout the album), and the main influences comes from Norwegian acts like Darkthrone and Gorgoroth. In practice, the only particular feature in this classic formula is the characteristic vocal style of Lord J.H. Psycho, very good to range from guttural ravings to completely sick and hysterical screams. The opening track "Alkahest" shows all this, and I have to say that it is also the most simple and shorter song (only 4 minutes while the other ones lasts 6 minutes) of "Altar of Fear". But, starting from the following number "To Dream Beneath Plains of White Ash", the Norwegian black metal of Lilyum is characterized here and there by some experimental solutions like clean vocals (they are absent only in the same "Alkahest"), keyboards with curious melodies (the end of "To Dream..."...but are they really keyboards?) and other small details.
Of the 7 songs, the favorite ones of mine are "The Witchers' Departure" and the following "Voices from the Fire", and both for different reasons. The first one because of its strong Celtic Frost influences clearly listenable in the riffs and in some percussions that gives to the song an imperial aura worthy of "To Mega Therion". Instead, "Voices from the Fire" is fuckin' great because it shows an intense dose of fury through a well-structured scheme after a calm intro full of atmospheric ambiance.
Ok, ended by a 10-minute tour de force titled "Siege the Solar Towers" that, at a certain point, become even melodic with an acoustic guitar before to terminate the song with a strange atmospheric outro, "Altar of Fear" is another good album released in 2017 from the Italian black metal scene. Slightly inferior to the ultra-traditionalist and monumental "Nightscapes" by Black Faith and the alternative and suggestive "Via Mala" by Umbra Noctis, the apocalyptic and sick "Altar of Fear" is the 7th album of a band always interesting and creative through a sound typical but, at the same time, rooted to the '90s black metal. Ha, and don't forget to watch (below) the promotional videoclip, published on YouTube just few days ago, of "The Watchers' Departure", a fantastic choice to promote this new album!
1 - Alkahest
2 - To Dream Beneath Plains of White Ash
3 - The Watchers' Departure
4 - Voices from the Fire
5 - Tomorrows Worth Erasing
6 - Stain of Salvation
7 - Siege the Solar Towers
Lord J.H. Psycho - vocals/bass/lead, harmony and clean guitars/ebow/synthesizers/samples and ambience/additional rhythm guitars on 2, 5 and 7
Kosmos Reversum - rhythm and lead guitars/ clean guitars on 6
Frozen - drums and percussions
Vacula Prod: http://www.vacula.com.ua/