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Altar of Oblivion - Grand Gesture of Defiance (Shadow Kingdom Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[7.5/10] “Hallowed” would be the operative term when discussing vintage Mercyful Fate and Candlemass. Subsequent replications have been received warmly (see: Ghost, In Solitude, etc.), and you can add Denmark’s Altar of Oblivion to the list. On their sophomore Grand Gesture of Defiance, the Danes combine the mystical specter of MF and roomy, doomy dancing of C-Mass into a tight six-song platter. The only thing missing is some falsetto.

Simplistic riffs churn at a regular, near-hypnotic pace on opener “Where Darkness Is Light,” as vocalist Mik Mentor (dude needs a cool nickname) unleashes his throaty, vintage metal caw. It’s not as off-putting as it initially seems, for Mentor has no problem finding the right pitch and key during the more vocally strenuous portions of “The Graveyard of Broken Dreams” and “The Smoke-Filled Room.” If anything, he sounds like a less theatrical Messiah Marcolin, who even in his robe-adorned glory, could get annoying. Mentor, does not.

With six songs at a compact 35 minutes, Altar of Oblivion leave just enough of an impression for the listener to want more. Grand Gesture of Defiance though, is epic without having to resort to pointless pandering or self-righteous storytelling and/or conceptual bits. The Danes probably figured it would be better to leave it up to the masters (i.e. King Diamond). That, or they’ve got something more grand in store for album #3. Nevertheless, another excellent find by Shadow Kingdom Records, and worth being slotted in with the likes of the aforementioned Ghost, In Solitude, The Devil’s Blood, and friends.

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