18 Sep 2019
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Sonic Altar - Album Review: Under A Dying Sun

27 Mar 2019 // A review by butch181

In this digital age, it’s not often that you get a full length record anymore. Everything is short and sweet just to get content out there before fans forget your band even exists. So, I got a pleasant surprise when I was asked to review an album to discover it was Sonic Altar’s 2014 album Under A Dying Sun. A full twelve tracks of sonic goodness that runs just short of an hour (with an average track length of nearly five minutes!).

Straight of the bat, there is such an obvious international edge to the sound; you can tell it was mixed and mastered in Finland, where that scene of symphonic heavy metal thrives. Sonic Altar themselves are incredibly tight in their musicianship, with some brilliantly consistent high pace on the guitars sprayed with a generous helping of crash symbols.

What really stands out with this Kiwi band is the clean vocal style of singer Kane Bennett. Unlike most heavy metal to come from our shores, which supplements the deep drudging guitars with heavy growls and screams, Bennett instead goes for the high clean route, with the odd abrasive element thrown in. In many cases, this style of vocals can make the music feel hollow, but there is such depth to the instrumentation that this is not the case here.

The vocal timbre provides an almost 80's aesthetic with the level of resonance and reverb. Much like the style that was notably popular back in the days of Black Sabbath and Dio. Creating an almost speed/symphonic metal hybrid, Sonic Altar provide thick dark riffs at a very organic rhythm that gets the head banging with some well-balanced synth that permeates into every nook and cranny.  

Admittedly their sound is so consistent that as the album progresses it could easily start to feel like much of the same, but they switch up the pace with the likes of Black Days and The Killer in Me, to keep everything engaging.

Their sound is so entrenched in that European heavy metal scene that their track Ghost in the Mirror is reminiscent of Swedish band, Ghost, during the choruses with some nods to the styling of Swedish prog-rockers Opeth in the heavier breakdowns. 

High-quality production, piercing vocals, and solid musicianship makes Under A Dying Sun a top-notch sing-along, headbanging album

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

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

Under A Dying Sun
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Blood Betrayal
Year: 2013
Type: EP
No Sacrifice
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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