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Sonic Altar @ Bar Medusa, Wellington on 1 September 2011

03 Sep 2011 // A review by Alistar3000

A handful of hardy Wellington metal fans turned out on Thursday night at Medusa to witness Auckland retro-metallers Sonic Altar as part of their album release tour.  Bringing with them fellow Aucklander's A Beautiful Chaos, and joined for the night by Kapiti Coast band Roadside Theory, we were set for a night of classic metal riffs, headbanging and finely honed stage acts.

I missed Roadside Theory unfortunately, mainly because I fell into the trap of not expecting any gig in Wellington to start before 10pm, which is a shame because by all accounts they put on a good show and people say they've got an interesting sound.

A Beautiful Chaos were just setting up when I strolled in the door and they were quickly into it.  They're clearly a well rehearsed band and they sounded good.  At times I felt they were perhaps a little too rehearsed - some of the stage movements seemed almost choreographed and lacking spontaneity.  Singer Angel Walker has a powerful voice and switched effortlessly between soft melodies and a heavier sound, all the while roaming the (admittedly small) stage and trying to encourage the crowd to get up closer to the stage.  The rest of the band played well but it was the bassist who stood out, wrestling with his bass as he played some pretty amazing basslines, at times lifting the whole band to another level.

Sonic Altar brought the crowd in when it was their turn to play.  I'd read a lot about the achievements of these guys; how they won the NZ Battle of the Bands in 2006, placed 3rd worldwide after playing in Hong Kong, recorded with Heaven and Hell producer Mike Exeter and opened for Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, Alice Cooper and Whitesnake in NZ.  So I was expecting to see a bunch of mid-30's professional musicians take to the stage and was surprised when what appeared to be a gang of schoolyard bogans showed up instead.  You shouldn't let their appearance fool you though, these guys play like they've been doing it forever. 

I listened to a lot of metal and hard rock growing up in the 80's, bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, so Sonic Altar's sound had a connection with me right away.  There were times when it seemed a bit cheesy though, especially nearly 30 years after the sound Sonic Altar emulate, but I think the band realise that and they hammed it up a bit on stage. 

The crowd really enjoyed them and were getting right into it, especially when they pulled out a cover of Ozzy's Mister Crowley, which had people singing along.  They work hard on stage and have a lot of energy, no doubt factors in their success.  The songs from their new album translate well into a live setting, although they probably deserve a bigger venue to showcase them in.

If you're a fan of older sounding metal and hard rock then you'll probably want to get out to see these guys when the Sonic Altar tour rolls through your town

About Sonic Altar

Echoing the ghosts of the classic metal hey-day with a revatilized sound, a unique blend of style and influence, Sonic Altar are a force to be reckoned with. The worship of music, a translation of the band name, is really what it means to be Sonic Altar. With a mission of bringing back the melodic substance to hard rock and being a live act to remember, the band have worked themselves to the bone since conception. Sonic Altar is here to melt your face.

Formed in early 2006, Sonic Altar began as a jam band amongst school friends. That year the band played in Hong Kong and recorded a single which received national air play in New Zealand. Between 2006 and 2008 the band progressed, undergoing some line up changes and solidified it's harder edged direction in late 2008. With a firm direction set, the band set about writing a new catalogue of songs and played all over New Zealand in 2009, blowing audiences away with their live performances. Sonic Altar have also supported some very big names in their home country, such as Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, Alice Cooper and Whitesnake.

In late 2009 the band decided that they had the right material to make an album. Instead of waiting to be discovered they decided to bite the bullet and make the album. In December of that year the band began recording with producer Mike Exeter (Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck, Glenn Hughes, Cradle of Filth) and finished mixing their debut album No Sacrifice, in May 2010.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sonic Altar

Releases

Blood Betrayal
Year: 2013
Type: EP
No Sacrifice
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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