The West Coast has been a veritable womb of nations for doom metal bands. One of the most notable to emerge from this crypt, at least personally, has always been Ancient Altar. Their 2018 EP, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras turned heads around the scene and saw the band take a major step forward. It brought in clean vocals and a much more bombastic sound. For a long time, the group seemed destined to be a doom metal also-ran. However, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras elevated them among the greats.
Defined by larger than life melodies and epic guitars, this two-song EP is a compelling listen. For instance, the simple elegance of the guitar line at the beginning of "Foie Gras" that cements the band in their aesthetic. Rather than alienating with storms of heaviness, this record embraces the listener in its warm guitar tones and soul-crushing songwriting. The psychedelic soloing that decorates this album seems to be a capstone of sorts. It couches sounds inspired by acts like Neurosis and Yob in the context of 70s rock. Their diverse approach sees the band pushing back at trends and emphasizing what makes them different. It's this kind of self-awareness that keeps Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras interesting.
Defined by its contrasts Ancient Altar crafted something very honest on Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras. While this may not be a doom metal record that defies expectations, it is one that taps into the zeitgeist. This record becomes special when you see it as a distillation of the hard work of countless bearded dudes on the West Coast trying to make good. Ancient Altar have always been a band defined by their deep understanding, not just of the riff, but of how to incorporate riffs into grander structures. The understated elegance of this twelve inch is their stoned testimonial.