Altarage – Nihil

Oh how we dread our submissions, oh how we loathe the endless messages, the letters (yes some people still write those), the pages upon pages of words soon forgotten in this escapist novel we turn called email.  The density can be overwhelming, never-ending, so repetitive it’s scarcely possible to give more than a moment to most of what we receive.  Look at me look at me, review me review me. No, no, no again.  To go further requires a presence commanding eminence over the rest, and we look for three things, and three things only: artwork with balanced meaning, a concise description, and music that covers all things horrifying.  On rare occasions, feeling a need to release the angst of our promo submission analyses, we will at times review things horrible when they’re simply horrible.  But we prefer not, we prefer to expound on horrible greatness, which as you can tell by our recent output, in our consideration of the matter, is something quite rare.  We don’t review everything on the site here itself, we don’t spend time bleeding our brains of every last word to explain our experience with said release unless, of course, it captures our attention like few could ever.  Altarage are one of the few.


We awoke as usual to a rather gray day, one of those days where the absence of sunlight paints everything in an impure light.  Colors are drab, happiness gives way to mourning, your steps move slower, your limbs ache.  But, other than this effect of the weather, largely a subjective experience, there was nothing unusual, and the human mind is known to wander in both ideas and feelings, so we thought nothing of it.  It was merely another series of moments, until, that is, we provided its soundtrack through Nihil.  Then, all of those feelings and the gloom around took shape, the natural surroundings rotted into worms slithering in their own mire of excrement, pooling together into a mass, and then rising into a ghastly, lurking thing like a storm that arrives, monstrously engorged with further bitterness.  When conceiving this thing before us, we realized it was inevitable that its teeth should ease over our heads and down our body until we were wholly consumed.  But yet, within its salivating mouth, it refused to chew, merely tasting at our despair with its barbed tongue, the sounds from inside its viscera becoming the life through death that is Nihil.


Altarage are one of a number of bands in the Spanish underground finally receiving due attention.  There are really only a few in metal known outside of the country’s borders, such as Teitanblood or Foscor.  In other genres you see even less though we, in fact, did a huge expose on Spanish punk almost two years ago, all taken from a rare compilation.  Such exposure is thin, but that’s starting to change.  Nihil is an example of why.  In an era when some bands go the chaos route to form their sound, often in walls of nonsense, Atarage is one of the few from anywhere adept enough to pull it off without sounding so needlessly chaotic that anyone who claims to enjoy it is fooling themselves.  “You just don’t get it, this stuff is good, you don’t understand, it’s so next-level.”  Trust us, we do get it, and we’re honest.  Most of that kind of thing hides a lack of musicianship behind chaos.  But try to do that while actually piecing together something called sound?  Ahh, that’s a much different story.  Nihil is wonderful for how it degrades, how it perverts traditional death metal, completely breaking itself out of the bounds that have imprisoned the genre for so long.  Bands like this are at the front of a new movement, where listening to this type of music can still fill one with savagery. Gone are the days of corpses and misogyny, here is the time of complete misanthropy, a calling out for hope where there is none, where the world is clearly, and finally, dying.  The worm beast that tongues your flesh, it is only through repeat listening of Nihil that you can tear through its gums, smash its teeth, and spread your arms from out of its cheeks like a blood-soaked human butterfly, fully formed in dread.  The consistent use of dissonance in this album is absolutely spectacular, especially vocals that sound like someone choking on the smoke of plague victims in a pyre.  This is an entire package deal, everything about it speaks of greatness, and as you should know, from now on, that’s not something we say for just anything.  This one was released by no less than four different labels, so scope them all out in the notes below and check out more of what they offer, and join us in welcoming the end of mankind.


Altarage Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Altarage: Nihil
Doomentia Records, Iron Bonehead Productions, Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Sol Y Nieve
4.9 / 5