Kansas City’s Inner Altar Melds Hardcore’s Bite With Occult Rock Theatricality

This Friday, January 18, sees the release of the debut full-length from Kansas City’s Inner Altar, via the Company. Titled Vol III, the nine-track album takes the sound the band’s been honing for several years and really brings all of the disparate influences together, keeping a sense of space-rocking openness, while eschewing the rough-and-tumble looseness that dominated their previous EPs.

I described it a couple of weeks back as “Danzig by way of the Cult, playing in a big, raucous warehouse,” when the video for “Lives of Fire” dropped, but the Company’s Joshua Wilkinson did an even better job of breaking down just what makes Inner Altar so appealing:

“I’m a huge fan of the old Witchcraft sound, which is a culmination of several other greats, namely Pentagram,” Wilkinson explained via email, saying that the guys in Inner Altar remind him of the occult rock style of bands like Witchcraft and Demon Head.

“But,” he continues, “Inner Altar are all hardcore/punk dudes so theres a bigger bite, a theatrical frontman, and a crisper metallic sound that their roots bring to their brand of gloom metal. They’re not a stale copy of a ’70s rock band, which is becoming all-too-common in this genre.”

That growth and fulfillment of the band’s early promise, which led Wilkinson to declare that Inner Altar was — and continues to be — one of of his “favorite bands, period,” is something which the band’s vocalist Lord Rewcifer (also known as Andrew Snow) mentions when I asked why Inner Altar waited until their third release to make a full-length album.

“We had always had an idea of what the album would be like and the previous releases didn’t fit that mold, nor had sustainability of themes that could carry a whole full-length,” Snow responded via email. “I see the first releases as short stories, whereas the album is all connected.”

Snow says that Inner Altar just had to wait until the right pieces fell into place: the songs, the members, the recording, et cetera and so on. It’s certainly noticeable in the song structure. The first two EPs saw the band a little looser, but Vol III is tight as hell. Even on a track like “Castle Storm,” which allows Snow a chance to cackle madly during a breakdown, the track still boogies to a head-nodding conclusion without getting distracted by groovy meanderings.

“All of us continuing to grow musically,” Snow says of the band’s evolution. “We’ve all been involved with each other musically for nearly a decade, and some of us even longer. We had bounced around a couple of lineup changes through those [earlier] releases and this one is the Voltron.”

While Inner Altar’s proud of the role those earlier releases played in their current formation, don’t expect them to pop back up in physical format any time soon.

Vol II probably won’t make it home from the mead hall, and will likely fall into a dungeon somewhere,” jokes Snow, although he admits that Vol I might make a great single-sided 12-inch reissue somewhere down the line.

I concluded by asking Snow about the band’s place in the Kansas City scene, which has exploded in recent years, with the city’s metal bands really embracing doom and various other slower, heavier forms of metal that don’t rely on blastbeats. While Snow admits that you’ll most likely catch him at a Stonehaven gig instead of a doom show, he says that “solid dudes abound” KC.

“The weedians are good at coming together and there are always tight compadres to fill a gig with,” Snow concludes. “It’s a smaller town and we all know each other’s bands fairly well.”

Here’s to hoping that with this full-length release of Vol III, Inner Altar is able to take their nine tracks and get to know folks across the country and around the world. Bow down to the altar, kids.

You can pre-order Inner Altar’s Vol III from the Company’s webstore. It comes on three different vinyl variants, as well as compact disc.

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek writes about films scores in his monthly OST column for Starburst Magazine (http://www.starburstmagazine.com), and can be found talking about movie soundtracks via the From & Inspired By podcast (http:///www.fromandinspiredby.com). He was once a punk, but realized you can't be hardcore and use the word "adorable" as often as he does.
Nick Spacek
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