Exclusive Track Premiere: Altar of Betelgeuze – “Absence of Light”
Does 2017 feel like a slow march to an elephant burial ground? Good, because the doom isn’t stopping anytime soon. In fact, I’m going to add another weight to your suicide cargoload with a preposterously dense new track from Altar of Betelgeuze. I’m pleased as all hell to premiere “Absence of Light” for your grave pleasure.
“Absence of Light,” the fifth track from Altar of Betelgeuze’s sophomore release Among the Ruins, starts off not with a bang, but with a soft, plaintive acoustic whimper. Be not deceived. This somber introduction is merely the calm before the storm, the numbing injection before the full-blown daze of emotion-crushing doom lays waste. After those serene 45 seconds, your soul belongs to the keepers of the altar.
What I find most interesting about this track is the band’s unconventional approach to stoner doom. The quartet notes on their Bandcamp page that they wanted to explore the heaviness and structure of death metal within a stoner metal context. That novel approach yields immediate results; the main riff that drives “Absence of Light” is a massive, crushing thing that combines the jarring looseness of stoner doom with the punch and bite of death metal. The death influence can also be felt in the throaty vocals, more reminiscent of funeral doom than stoner metal, again lending the track a far deeper emotional weight than usual in this genre.
On an artistic level, the combination of death metal with stoner doom lends the track an almost spiritual, austere tone. The cleaner riffs are reverent and morose; as the song unwinds within the last minute, these plaintive notes are led to the burial ground with grace and dignity by the martial drumbeat, content and resigned to their fate. There’s a majesty to what Altar of Betelgeuze are doing here, and it wouldn’t be too far a leap to label this album spiritual doom as it shares a similar emotive plane as Spirit Adrift and Bereft.
Press play below and take your place at the pew in the catacombs.