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'Grand Gesture Of Defiance'
(Shadow Kingdom Records)

Sam Shepherd

sam shepherd

altar of oblivion

Quite what Altar Of Oblivion consider to be a grand gesture of defiance is anyone's guess. If there is an official scale of defiant gestures, then this album registers fairly low on the chart. It's not quite as tame as a middle finger held up (and shielded from view by a hymn book), it's also nowhere near organising a terrorist cell and coordinating a series of atrocities.

Judging from the sound that this Danish bunch knock out, they register around about the mark labelled "thought about a dirty protest, went to my bedroom to paint the walls black and played basic Metal instead."

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Of course, the band themselves have some quite lofty ideas and to be fair, occasionally they reach them, just not as often as they should. After all, their first album, 'Sinews Of Anguish', was a concept album based on the horrors of the First World War, so it's not as if they're beyond stretching themselves.

Then there are the vocals of Mik Mentor, which are undeniably Altar Of Oblivion's trump card. Seemingly teleported in from a time when an almost operatic style was essential in Metal (think Candlemass, Steve Grimmett, and even dear old Brucie) it is his dramatic overblown style that lifts an otherwise rather lumpen album and makes it a reasonable listen.

With Mentor leading the charge they tread an unsteady path between old-school Metal and Doom. Yet there's a fundamental problem with the album that stems from a lack of inventiveness in the riff department. Much of 'Grand Gesture...' could, and probably has been, thrashed out in any number of rehearsal rooms around the world and then discarded for being a bit 'stock' (to borrow from Lars Ulrich's vocabulary for a moment).

There's nothing wrong with a chugging riff or slowed down progression, but all too often it sounds as if the band has hit a wall and just settled on something, anything, because it fills a gap. The opening riff of 'Where Darkness Is Light' is a perfect case in point, a chugging cast off that should have been butchered at birth and stamped on for good measure.

It does get a little better however, thanks to some heroic vocals for the chorus and a fine mid-section where the doom takes over fully, complete with atmospheric gothic keyboards. Additionally there's some quite splendid dual guitar work here too which proves that the band are not exactly slouches when it comes to technique.

'The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams' similarly suffers from a lack of invention at its core, however it does at least possess a chorus that is a bombastic triumph. Then there's the closing section that borrows successfully from Maiden's heyday when they were pinging out drawn out epics like 'Hallowed By Thy Name'. An equally classic 80s Metal moment can be found nestled at the heart of 'In The Shadow Of The Gallows' as the guitars trade off while Mentor gives it his all.

When they turn their hands to straight up power Metal they're in their element, but when married to the plodding doom aspect of their repertoire, it just doesn't click. It's a dichotomy that sadly threatens to derail the album at almost every turn.

'Sentenced In Absentia' is perhaps the most significant victim of this. Kicking off like a tortured goth tune, before falling back in to the plodding doom riffs once again. Mentor tries to keep his theatrics in check, but it's not too long before he's screaming along like a slightly depressed Michael Kiske and the band begin lean towards power Metal once again.

Wrapping up with the inevitable balladry of 'Final Perfection', Altar Of Oblivion seem to have given up on the idea of doom altogether, and it suits them just fine. Hopefully next time around, they'll drop it completely. It's a shame that the album is so conflicted because there's clearly talent here that shines through in the more Power Metal aspects, but it is frequently obscured by hamfisted riffing.





Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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