Greek band Alter Self haven’t had an easy life since their inception in 2007, with multiple line-ups and military obligations getting in the way since their initial self-funded EP release in 2009. Seven Deadly Blessings is their first full album release and gives them a proper chance to show just what they’re capable of.
With an atmospheric intro to the seven deadly sins kicking this album off I was waiting on the rip snorting proper start that inevitably arrived in My Sober Reflection, a track that is littered with old school thrash notes backed by Sepultura-esque growls from Andrew Geo. There’s power in the track bursting to get out, but right from the off I’m finding the production to have a little bit too much top end and nowhere near enough bass to grab me by the balls and it’s something this album as a whole needs. Bleed Through Me follows this with a more controlled pace and some more thrash leanings replete with NWOBHM styled soloing before returning to the pace with Fovea that does have a great funky middle eastern break that sadly is over before it’s really begun.
The album is more thrash than death I have to say, with the vocals being the predominant nod to this genre. I am finding it a little bit too one dimensional sadly too, with little variation in vocals from track to track and each track following a similar template but dressed up in different riffage. It’s frustrating in this sense because you can feel there’s the roots of some great music in there alongside some touches of brilliance. The likes of Separation of God and Flesh Sculpture prove they can pull together something that’s a little more left of field with some haunting and disturbing vocal undertones backed with some staccato riffing but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
Alter Self are more than competent musicians, of that there’s no doubt when you listen to some of the guitar, drum and bass work. Netherlight in particular has some great musicianship on show but I keep finding myself wishing that there was more bottom end to the production to really blow your ears. Halcyon, sadly as it is a beautiful acoustic piece, feels like a filler to show that they can do more than just crank riffs out. It’s crying for some soulful vocals over it to prove that Geo can do more than just growl throughout an album at one level too.
Getting that first album out is always an immense challenge and Alter Self have given themselves something that they can build on and learn from with this one. It has its moments but they’re just too few to make this album stay in my mind for very long.
Seven Deadly Blessings is released on 22 February 2013 via Noisehead Records
2. My Sober Reflection
3. Bleed Through Me
5. A Nameless Tragedy
6. Separation From God
8. Flesh Sculpture
10. Storms Gather
ALTER SELF are:
Andrew Geo – Guitars, Vocals
Alex Paris – Guitars
John Marinatos – Bass
Petros Apostolou – Drums