End of 1980s, beginning of 1990s. Sweden, Europe. I guess there were many different ways to express your musical soul. One could probably join ABBA tribute band in a local pub, be a roadie for Joey Tempest or Roxette, or dream of founding Ace of Base…or you could be a fucking death metal musician, ladies and gentlemen!

Altar - Dark Domains cover

Yes, Sweden of the said era has brought us the finest stuff in OSDM European style – Swedish Death Metal. And while names like Dismember, Entombed, Grave or Unleashed might be well known among the deathsters, there were a few others giants of the genre, gone but not forgotten, who definitely need to be brought back to a new generation of lovers of metal. And why do you read about it here? Well…

One day I‘ve got quite nostalgic and started to search about some old stuff I hadn‘t heard before. Or heard but forgotten. And in old issue of Wild Rags mag I‘ve found mentioned Altar. Not Altar of „Youth Against Christ“ fame, the other one. From Sweden.

Obviously, their demo „No Flesh Shall Be Spared“ (mentioned in Wild Rags mag) is looooong sold out, but luckily is available on the Youtube, so here did I go. And it didn‘t take long to decide I need a CD of it.

Luckily, the CD compilation is still available and after forking out some of the great British currency for it, I can actually get to the crux of the matter and do a quick review of the material.

OK, let‘s start with two less pleasant things. First – ornamental fonts are great for titles and such, but not for text itself, and although it is still readable, it kinda hurts my eyes. Ew, bring me Times New Roman anytime! But that’s more of a CD insert thingy, nothing to do with the music itself.

The second thing I should mention is the listing of the songs. Personally, I’d welcome more listener-oriented approach to list/press songs chronologically (more preferred perhaps), but what we have is little chaotic. First 5 songs from 1992 CD, then 3 songs from 1993 demo, 3 songs from 1994 demo, 4 songs from 1991 demo, instrumental from 1995 demo and last two are from 1992 CD. Still, nothing to complain from a musical side, but there could be done a little more. OK, I know it’s nitpicking, but couldn’t help it. But it would be much better, as you can really see the progress of the band. Especially getting more melodic, which I like (the change from 1993 recordings to 1994 is quite revealing)! Well, Scandinavians know how to write melodic death metal, this one is a fact (and to this attest the songs from 1994 demo presented in this compilation, and Days Forever Grey are without a doubt the favourite of mine, followed by Violent Acts – man, did I cry with nostalgia while listening to these!).

To sum it all up, “Dark Domains” is a solid piece of Swedish OSDM history. If you like your music heavy, you owe to yourself to have this in your player. And on repeat.