Gosudar / Malignant Altar Split EP

Me Saco Un Ojo
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Mortified Transformation (GOSUDAR)
02. Domination of Irreality (GOSUDAR)
03. Malfeasance (Inexorable Enmity) (MALIGNANT ALTAR)
04. The Awakening of the Majestic Darkness [IMPRECATION cover] (MALIGNANT ALTAR)

Metal's underground channels are always awash with split releases and other seemingly peripheral projects, but this four-tracker featuring two of the filthiest and most horrifying death metal bands on the planet is an undeniable doozy.

Both GOSUDAR and MALIGNANT ALTAR arrive here after delivering top-drawer debut albums in 2021. Russian miscreants GOSUDAR's "Morbid Despotic Ritual" slithered into earshot via US imprint Rotted Life and set a high bar for doom-infected, suppurating death metal with a heart of purest darkness. Texans MALIGNANT ALTAR (now, apparently, defunct) received deserved rave reviews for "Realms of Exquisite Morbidity": 33 minutes of militantly scurrilous death/doom with a distinctly old-school spirit. Both wading in the same swamp of blasphemous brutality, these kindred spirits make for a perfect match.

Revealing a curious mixture of ambition and myopia, GOSUDAR kick things off with "Mortified Transformation". A ten-minute avalanche of slow-motion riffs and jagged detours, it's a subtly progressive and angular affair. As it bulldozes towards its conclusion, one final burst of rapid-fire nastiness gives way to a riff so grim and morbid that it would make AUTOPSY flinch. The Russians' second contribution, "Domination of Irreality" is more intense and extreme: an ornate sludge monolith, casting shadows over a doomed world.

There are always deeper depths to explore, of course. MALIGNANT ALTAR's "Malfeasance (Inexorable Enmity)" somehow outstrips both GOSUDAR tracks. It starts at a disdainful snail's pace, lumbering and slashing with indiscriminate glee, before erupting into blast-powered bedlam and back again, ending on a dirty SABBATH groove and a storm of malevolent shred. Finally, MALIGNANT ALTAR pay tribute to cult Houston death crew IMPRECATION, with a cover of "The Awakening of Majestic Darkness" (originally on the band's 1993 "Sigil Of Baphomet" seven-inch). Texas death metal is enjoying a new golden age at the moment, but it is always good to see a scene's architects saluted. The song itself is a crushing, mid-paced grinder with strong GRAVE and BOLT THROWER vibes: nothing to dislike there, clearly.

With releases this strong, supporting the off-the-radar underground is a privilege, rather than a duty. Death lives.

Author: Dom Lawson
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