Label: Firecum Records
Date: June 7th, 2021
How much of an impact does a new vocalist have on a band? Judging by the new album by the Portuguese masters Alastor, a whole lot. Come to think of it, Lex Thunder’s (what a nickname, huh?) presence left the biggest impression on me when it comes to “The Unholy Hordes”.
His classy(cal) thrashing heavy metal voice made the album what it is much more than any of the riffs, solos or rhythms. Keeping in mind the band’s determination to persevere in using their native language, the vocals fit like a glove. Furthermore, they seem to have influenced Alastor’s sound altogether, since the band also went a bit more on the traditional heavy metal side.
What actually happened is that Alastor kept using the recognizable patterns of early thrashing black metal they got us used to within the past two (and a bit more) decades. Venom remains a big influence. And so does Celtic Frost. But so does Angelwitch, too. Maybe even Running Wild or their countrymen to a small degree.
Still, with the “mellowing” in the genre department, Alastor remains very much an honest, underground act that takes no prisoners. Even better though, since there are some quite catchy choruses on “The Unholy Hordes”. Again, the vocals take the lead. As for the remainder of instruments used on the album, they keep their fairly decent level without too many upwards moments. Especially in the rhythmic department.
Guitar solos do come in nicely and offer a good change of pace. They are neatly introduced in the tracks and serve a higher purpose than just simple showing off. But the rest of guitar work is not all that impressive. Voice still takes the reigns and guides the album throughout.
Okay, this is a “no bullshit” record and I should stop bullshitting right now. One thing you need to understand at the very end is that records like this are a treat for underground maniacs and nobody else. “The Unholy Hordes” presents Alastor as a band that has a way of making changes. At the same time adapting to them so that the music does not suffer one bit. Everything else is of lesser importance. Get it or not, these guys are on the scene for a very long time and show no sign of looking for a break. Or even caring about whether you get the album or not.
Hell, I’m pretty sure they won’t even mind my review. Their route is clearly set in front of them and they are firmly stepping on it.