Isolation – Altar of Eris (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Although ideas of isolation and abandonment, loneliness and longing have always been subjects explored by musicians, especially those who follow a more alternative path (after all, these subjects don’t lend them self to a particularly perky pop format), the fact that this sophomore release is the product of a band trying to plough their creative furrow through lockdown seems to add additional weight. And if such themes are clear in the sonic threads with which the band so elegantly forges into this music of abandonment, the lyrical themes, particularly those relating to social segregation, broken promises, broken hearts and even broken lives, seem to have taken a heightened relevance in the past week.

Musically Altar of Eris is a combination of musical magpie and torch bearers. Magpies in that they seem to pick all of the …whatever the opposite of shiny is…sonic objects from the early days of post-punk. Underground, dark wave beats drive cold swathes of guitar, bass lines echo from the half-hidden depths and washes of evocative keyboards ooze through the gaps between.

If you were looking for classic touchstones then you might cite Joy Division’s desolate dirge disco or Clan of Xymox’s ability to take what would later evolve into the New Romantic sound and sacrifice it on the alter of a dark techno-deity. But, as I said, they are also torch bearers, proving that such music not only moves with the times but can still provide a powerful and perfect sound track for them.

Labyrinth of Tears is a bleak and blistered wash of atmospherics, punctuated by spacious beats and a disembodied voice, Violent Dreams seems built of shards of shattered riffs frozen solid and used as personal weapons and opening salvo Three-Fold shows just how closely connected such music is to various alternative dance scenes.

And into all of this they inject a real feeling of paganism and occultism, ritualistic and esoteric thought. Not the usual trite offerings from a generation brought up watching Buffy but real Aleister Crowley stuff – edgy, deep and slightly concerning. Great stuff and wonderfully and wilfully out of step with modern expectations…just how I like my music.

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