Sovereign’s full debut album is an absolute gem, with seven tracks that blend thrash and death with cool elements of prog/tech death metal. I was taken aback by how old-school it sounds and that is exactly what makes this album as good as it is, it does not reinvent the wheel it just betters it.
The title and opening track, “Altered Reality”, has the band setting out their stall with an atmospheric intro that descends into the realms of hell pretty quickly, a grinding mix of drums and guitars with a massive bass lets you know you’re in for a ride, Grong’s vocals are savage, his guttural offerings are the perfect fit for what the band are serving up. “Futile Dreams” is an animal, fast, heavy and downright brutal with a killer groove that seems so out of place but seamlessly meshes, the guitars are one thing that stands out on the album as they are always front and centre, none more so that here as Jacobsen and Fineidet go back and forth trading off, a brilliant track and Grong is in blistering form. The crushing “Nebular Waves” is one of the best tracks on here; the chugging riffs, thumping drums and heavy bass line create an incessant beat that will drive you insane, combined with Grong’s throaty vocals and a killer solo it is a near perfect track that meshes fast thrash with some technical death metal. The slower tempo of “Counter Tech” allows all of its glory to drip into your ears, for my money there is a real Death sound on this one, harnessing all of the innovators of the genre to create a brilliant track, heavy as hell with a rumbling bass and gritty riffs with brutal utterings from Grong topping it all off. Opening with a soft slow intro “The Enigma Of Intelligence” explodes into life in a barrage of chugging riffs and crashing drums, the pace is upped significantly on this track giving you a thrashier feel while managing to keep the heavy tones, very reminiscent of the “Morbid Visions” era of Sepultura, fucking killer. “Synthetic Life” is a blistering track that smashes you full force in the face; a heavy bassline runs the show ably assisted by thunderous drums and some killer guitar interplay, the solo from Jacobsen is brilliant, a real high point along with Grong’s vocals.
The album closes with “Absence Of Unity” a ten-minute epic that encapsulates all that is good from these guys, an ethereal opening leads to a crushing five-minute assault on the senses before playing out the final four minutes or so with a slow Obituary-style grind that is fantastic and a killer way to finish.
Altered Realities will be out on January 19, 2024, on CD, vinyl, cassette and digital formats.