Being touted in their press release as “by far the best Heavy Metal band to come out of Denmark since Mercyful Fate”, you would expect Altar Of Oblivion to sound absolutely massive; being mentioned in the same bracket as such legends is a massive call after all. Sadly, without beating around the bush, “Grand Gesture Of Defiance” doesn’t live up to such expectations. Not even closely.
Essentially a doom metal band, Altar Of Oblivion do tie in elements of classic heavy metal and even power metal; especially in their vocals; so some credit can be given for them trying something new. Otherwise there is very little here that actually works. Firstly the doomy riffs are very generic in nature but very bland as well; the opening riff for ‘Where Darkness Is Light’ for example could come from a doom metal beginner’s guidebook. Elsewhere there are a few guitar licks that strike up a more classic metal (aside from the doomy Black Sabbath influenced kind) feel but these too simply fail to excite at all, nor do they sound anything beyond a starter level.
Vocally it certainly tries to be dynamic, with a vocalist more akin to a power metal style with a relatively grandiose sounding approach rather than a more melancholic sound that doom would crop up, but couple with the doom sounding music it just doesn’t fit. The vocals sound like they are trying to convey a different feel entirely to what the music is expressing, making it sound confused. On ‘Sentenced in Absentia’ the vocals are perhaps at their darkest at the early passage, but this just further cements the weakness of the vocals overall as even here it seems to have no emotional impact whatsoever.
An overwhelmingly positive set of comments in the press release really set expectations high here and in fairness this can always set up for disappointment; but this is a very poor effort unfortunately. Even reaching levels of tedium at times, this is one that is certainly best avoided.