altars of madness is a historically important album, but it’s not a great album. while there was nothing else quite this blazingly fast and twisted at the time–you could swear some of the riffs are being played backwards–the lack of rhythmic dynamics makes it monotonous to sit through; it gets to a point where we are merely waiting for the next hellish, atonal solo to ooze out of the speakers. it is also worth noting that the band was still very conceptually immature at this point. “evil spells”? really? ooo, now i’m spooked.
don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but blessed are the sick and covenant show this band at their most masterful. altars has its place as a historical document, but other relics from around the same time like repulsion’s horrified and autopsy’s severed survival have aged better, and are still awesome without any qualifications or contextual pretense.