“Pendulum” is the second full length recording by Alter. Alter is a 3-piece atmospheric rock band from Baltimore, MD featuring members of Barbelith and Eyelet. It also features artwork by Baltimore’s Terence Hannum of Locrian.
The opening track, “False Mirror“, beckons with a single guitar lick, reverberated, distorted and delayed, and gives way to a beautifully strummed chord progression that brings the song to sonic fruition. With thrashing cymbals, and heavy chords, a seductive bass line, and cavernous vocals, the song leaves no room for longing. It’s all there, in my ears. This comes to no surprise, as Alter is appreciated most by their wall of sound that flirts with a metal aesthetic. It is definitely something worth looking forward to seeing live.
The title track, “Pendulum“, is essentially as classically shoegaze as any Alter fan can hope for. The track—as a whole—sways, the vocals carry a sense of longing, and the guitar layers…The guitar layers are tiers of distorted thrusts, looming an engulfing lead that dances on the fretboard. The vocal melody is beautiful, bellowing serenade that is so hauntingly mixed it is mesmerizing. This track had me in a daze, and is really the track that made the album win me over.
The following track, “Inner Eclipse“, brings the album back to Alter’s metal-based sound. It is heavy, it is dark, and does not disappoint. It get’s progressively louder and drops off with an echo. “The Storm” follows up with the same vain, but follows through as more of a ballad. It is reminiscent of the dark and entrenching walls of sound that shoegaze bands like Slowdive and metal bands like Isis have managed to perfect. Alter excels in that every instrument, every note, climb onto the one another, ignite, explode, and come down like the escaping embers of fireworks.
The album closes with “Lost Instinct“, a creeping outpour of two sustained chords, a whirring lead, a steady drumbeat, a metal-spiraling bass line, and a ritual hymn that make the song a slow descent into an abyss of black sand and hematite dust.
If you are fans of shoegaze that flirts with metal, or vice-versa, this is the release you do not want to miss. It will leave you wanting more, and definitely pique your interest in hearing it live.