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on 12 February 2007
As most of you may of rather should be aware, both Sunn O))) (USA) and Boris (Japan) are both extremely innovative drone/metal bands. I must also point out that this record is a collaboration rather than a split. Hearing drums while chilling to Sunn is a rare occurrence but it's a new vibe than works well for them. This 6 track album (7 if you were lucky enough to pick up the limited 2cd version) opens with the epic `Etna' full of weird sounds until the drone bass/guitars of O Malley and Anderson kick in, already the album is proving to be a much more experimental affair than either bands previous records . Track 3 `The Sinking Belle' even features, dare I say, some beautiful female vocals which you can get lost in when listening to at the right moment. It is safe to say the the Sunn O))) presence is far more dominating on Altar than that of Boris. There is some great sample work going on in `Akuma No Kuma' which sets a great tone in my opinion. The Album comes to a finale with the 15 minute epic `Blood Swamp' which looping back in sound to opener `Etna' has you instantly reaching for the play button again. The bonus track (on the limited CD2) `Her Lips Were Wet With Venom' goes on for a further 30 minutes and features none-other than Joe Preston (Earth/Thrones). If you're already a fan of either Sunn or Boris then you owe it to yourself to pick up this record and believe me it won't disappoint. If however you don't enjoy your music droning and `heavier than thou' then I recommend you steer clear of this record at all costs, I hear that Bullet for my Valentine have a new record out soon, maybe you should old off for that.
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on 30 May 2007
Have to agree with the previous reviewer - Altar is simply wonderful. And not what I was expecting, having only heard Etna previously. The sung pieces are beautiful!
There are some really atmospheric moments here, almost ambient. And enough lower-register drones that wash through you like an immense slow-moving river bore...Altar is superb.

But do check out Earth as well, who inspired Sunn 0))). The highly recommended album of Earth remixes 'Legacy of Dissolution' features Sunn dropping some devastating chords in their remix, and also has Autechre doing a rather tasty, almost tongue in cheek 'Coda & Maestoso'...and 'Earth 2' is simply jaw-dropping. Heck, buy Altar with these two and you'll be a very, very happy bunny, I promise.
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on 2 July 2008
Get this while you can! They don't usually make them like this anymore, triple vinyl, gorgeous colour booklet with an essay and coloured (or clear) vinyl.
And as for the music...
Well all the collaborators have outdone themselves on this mighty album. For your money, you get the full version of the LP (as only available on a very rare 2CD set) including Her Lips Were Wet With Venom - a radical reworking of Soundgarden's obscure Satan Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas (or S.O.M.M.S). The track features the combined talents of Sunn O))), Boris and Dylan Carlson (of the band Earth) and is an uber-heavy improvisatory epic which allows each musician to in turn display their reportoire. The result is awesome.
Then there's the rest of the album, bracketed by opening and closing tracks Etna and Bloodswamp - two fine sludge-doom monoliths enlivened by Atsuo's explosive drums and Wata's searing guitar solos. Betwen these tracks are four others which each push the boundaries of the impressively broad genres that both Sunn and Boris normally reference. The Sinking Belle, with Jesse Sykes' lush whispery vocals is like Earth (on their recent Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull album) meeting Mike Moya's Hrsta in the middle of a nervous breakdown, whereas Akuma No Kuma with it's vocodered Joe Preston (Melvins) vocal, banks of fried analogue synths and trombone(!) is indescribably and magnificently weird.
Fried Eagle Mind presents atmospheric and haunting psychedelia to challenge the most travelled psychonaut, with eerie calm and twanged guitars and soundscape, and Wata's otherwordly breathy and seductive vocals.
I cannot give this LP set sufficient praise, it is an essential collection of collaborative works from a group of artists at the peak of their powers.
If you only buy one vinyl LP in your whole lifetime, let it be this one.
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on 28 July 2015
Heavy psychedelic ambient drone metal. Nuff said.
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