I don't understand the middling praise for this record, as in "it's decent, but less than the sum of its parts". In light of the one-trick nature of both bands' best material to this point, "Altar" is a fantastically deep and diverse album. The opener, "Etna" is arguably the most "extreme" track on here, and it's the one that appears to be most pleasing to hardcore metalheads. I can appreciate someone not getting excited over closing track "Blood Swamp" only because it sounds too much like conventional Sunn O))). Liess superficial listening reveals an astonishing track, progressing from dark ambience to churning drones in fifteen horrifying, blistering minutes.
"Fried Eagle Mind" falters a bit at the start, with reverb-drenched vocals imploring you to "dreeeeaaam". It's like a bad balearic tune composed by overly devoted fans of "The Wall" (the movie), but it redeems itself by the end once it spirals into a chaotic cacaphony. But "The Sinking Belle" gets their sensitive side just right, reminding me of Sianspheric at their psyched-out, slowed-down, blissful best.