Review: Acolyte – ‘Alta’

Acolyte have been sitting on ‘Alta’ for a few years now, waiting for the right record deal to materialise so they can unleash their follow-up to excellent 2011 EP ‘Leng’. The Manchester band signed to Mordgrimm earlier in the year and have finally released this long-awaited debut album. The five-piece have made a gigantic, colossal beast of a record with mega lashings of groove and weighty yet smooth progressive transitions; from bouts of bouncing rocky verses with massive hooks to barbaric, blackened stampedes, Acolyte do it all with equal intelligence and charisma throughout ‘Alta’.

Acolyte_Alta_Cover                                          

‘Charybdis’ is the hypnotic opener that lulls us into this debut record, almost giving a false sense of security as it gradually snowballs into heavier and heavier, groovier and groovier territory. Influences from <code> and Enslaved might be immediately apparent from the offset, but that doesn’t mean Acolyte are making something that isn’t their own. Drummer Dan Brady relies less on typical blastbeat structures in the way other UK BM acts do and you’ll be hard pushed to find a tremolo riff delivered in traditional black metal fashion; when you do hear it, it’s marked with Acolyte’s groovy trademark melody, especially in one particular crashing breakdown of brute force on nine-minute standout track, ‘Leng’. Malekh’s impenetrable palm-mute riffs are consistently backed by unpredictable bass lines and contrasted against a visceral vocal performance from frontman JT to create a fortress of extreme sound.

The mixing, mastering and production of the album was handled by Tom Dring (Electric Wizard, Dragged Into Sunlight), maximising the potential of each track, giving the songs that extra boost in order to refine Acolyte’s almost catchy melodies whilst plumping up their beefier sections and allowing them to break the scales with boulder-sized riffs; ‘The Nameless Expanse’ being a great example of the latter. Longest track of the album, ‘Epistle’, closes the album with extended verses of reflective atmospheric rock to leave us thinking about what the future holds. Undoubtedly, Acolyte have joined an ever-increasing, life-affirming list of promising UK metal talents with ‘Alta’.

8.5/10

‘Alta is out now on Mordgrimm.
Originally published at SoundShock Webzine:
soundshock.com/index.php/cd-reviews/4849-acolyte-alta-album-review

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