Alastis


The Just Law

Alastis - The Just Law ©1993 Head Not Found
1. The Just Law
2. Black Wedding
3. Illusion
4. Reconversion
5. Damned Forever
6. Nightmare
7. The Cry
8. Fatidical Date
9. Messenger Of The Underworld

Sometimes it's just not really worth the trouble digging through a band's back catalogue to explore their humble beginnings. In the case of Switzerland's Alastis (not to be confused as Samael Jr.), it's safe to say that if you wish to avoid ever hearing their debut CD, The Just Law, you will be doing yourself an immense favor. The Just Law is a truly awful effort with essentially nothing worth recommending on the album. The only thing one might note is that they went from an amateurish outfit to a pretty accomplished second tier dark metal act over the course of their career. The Just Law does nothing more than demonstrate how far that journey really was.

To document this album's array of failures would be an arduous task that would require far more effort than the CD deserves. The production is quite bad. It appears they were going for an expansive, echoing sound that might remind one of a dungeon or some offset bowel of hell, but instead they made it sound like your kid brother's joke band practicing at the school gymnasium with their amps set at "3" to avoid bothering the Home Economics class next door. However, many decent heavy metal CDs have suffered through poor production, but in their cases, they at least featured good songwriting. Whatever Alastis was trying to create back in the early 90s is completely lost. The songs plod along, offering absolutely nothing in the way of interesting riffs, concepts or approach. This band sounds as though they want to be "evil", but have no idea exactly what that might entail besides some distorted guitar and rasped vocals. Once in a rare while, a moderately interesting bassline sneaks out, but I think it was mostly accidental. The Just Law is a truly tedious, abysmal listening experience as the album never once offers the listener something worthwhile to latch onto.

As this was apparently the first release for the Head Not Found label, one might just surmise that the label was desperate for material and the band, although not developmentally ready for an actual release on a label whatsoever, was desperate for a label. If only a friend or trusted advisor had stepped in and warned all parties involved that it just wasn't time for Alastis to be presented to the world, I might have regained that lost forty-five minutes of my life. If for some reason you enjoy Alastis' later releases, don't feel obligated to check out their debut. Your life may actually be a better place having never heard this one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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...And Death Smiled

Alastis - ...And Death Smiled ©1995 Adipocere Records
1. From The U.W.
2. Through Your Torpor
3. Let Me Die
4. Evil
5. By Thy Name
6. Schizophrenia (Mental Suicide)
7. March For Victory
8. Your God
9. Last Wishes
10. The Psychopath
11. Messenger Of The U.W. (Second Act)

By the time of their second release, ...And Death Smiled, Switzerland's Alastis had cleaned up the bevy of problems that plagued their debut, The Just Law. Their debut was a truly wretched piece of work, one that certainly wouldn't engender any affection for their efforts. However, for their second commercial attempt, Alastis got appropriately good production values and projected the image they were actually a professional band with serious musicians, not some clowns in a garage with a cheap four track recorder and too much time on their hands.

But that isn't to say ...And Death Smiled should be placed on any "best of 1995" lists, either. While the improvements from their debut automatically make this a much more enjoyable release, ...And Death Smiled still demonstrates Alastis hadn't completely found themselves yet. The basic slow paced, atmospheric and dark sound from the debut is still in effect, albeit properly done, but the songs themselves still aren't anything to run up the flagpole and salute. Much of this album sounds like an offshoot of their buddies in Samael, although perhaps a bit more straightforward in song arrangements. Probably the best aspect of this album is just the overall improved musicianship of Alastis. Vocalist/guitarist War D. had developed a convincing death roar, which still somewhat hints at what Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman might have done had he grown up a fan of death metal (which didn't exist when he was an impressionable lad).

While not the band's strongest effort, this CD at least established Alastis as a credible band. And believe me, if you ever get the hankering to travel backwards in their catalogue, this is as far back as you really ever need to go.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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The Other Side

Alastis - The Other Side ©1997 Century Media
1. In Darkness
2. Never Again
3. The Other Side
4. Out Of Time
5. Through The Chaos
6. Fight & Win
7. Slaves Of Rot
8. Remind
9. Under The Sign
10. End Or Beginning?

What do you get if you take the members of Killing Joke, Samael, and a few atmospheric metal CDs, throw them in an industrial sized blender, and set it on "OverAnalyze"? Chances are, the drink in question would be called Alastis. From the outstanding memorable opener "In Darkness", you know this band has something going on. What they do isn't strikingly unique, yet the band reminds you of no one particular influence. War D.'s vocals occasionally remind me of Jaz Coleman's roar while the music is created in a very subtle, non-flashy way. "Never Again" is a great example of using very simple structure to create a powerful movement that doesn't rely on flash or busy riffs. Keyboards are implemented throughout (played by producer Waldemar Sorychta, who probably has produced every great band on the Century Media roster) but are used again as subtle texture rather than an upfront thing. Definitely a heavy, powerful, and moving release for a band that deserves some attention.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1998

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Revenge

Alastis - Revenge ©1998 Century Media
1. Just Hate
2. Burnt Alive
3. Eternal Cycle
4. Sacrifice
5. Ecstasy
6. Like A Dream
7. Nemesis
8. Bring Down
9. Agony
10. Revenge

Showing just only the slightest hint of growth from The Other Side, Alastis puts together yet another ten songs of their Samael-lite meets modern Rotting Christ for Revenge. Most people rightfully peg Alastis as sounding much like fellow countrymen Samael. After all, vocalist War D. does sound quite a bit like Vorph and the band utilizes a musical approach that has those dreamy and somber keyboards, though it's a bit more in the direction of where Greece's Rotting Christ was going with A Dead Poem and Sleep of the Angels. In other words, you get a dark metal band that offers some good elements of other noticeable metal bands, but doesn't quite command the attention of their mentors and friends. Revenge is by all means a good, pleasant album that certainly rides above mediocrity. But it does lack the compelling ingredient that takes an album likes this and turn it into a genre required purchase. More background music than a demand for attention, Revenge is fine for anyone who liked The Other Side or is getting a kick out of what Rotting Christ is doing these days.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Unity

Alastis - Unity ©2001 Century Media
1. The Right To Die
2. The Elect
3. The Sign
4. Another God
5. Who Created The Gods
6. Ghastly Fancies
7. Existence
8. Antidote
9. To The Root Of Evil
10. ...and Death Smiled

Continuing right where their last two albums left off, Unity is another above average (though not great) effort from Alastis. The album doesn't venture terribly far from their established dark metal style, fitting in the realm occupied by Rotting Christ with the obligatory Samael reference. Unity does sort of strike me as an album Samael might have made were they to continue on from Ceremony of Opposites with only a minimal deviation into electronics and industrial music. However, before one gets too carried away with that analogy, Unity is a pretty straight forward affair. The songs do not stretch the limits of imagination, but are effective for what they are. War D.'s vocals have become appropriately menacing and thundering by this point. The usage of keyboards is subtle, keeping Alastis rooted in guitar driven dark metal.

For the most part, Unity is a enjoyable album that only has a couple standout tracks ("The Sign" being probably the best of the lot). Yet, it doesn't fail to satisfy. Alastis disappeared entirely from the metal world following this release. Although chances are they aren't mourned by too many, it can be said that Unity should be picked up by anyone who enjoyed either The Other Side or Revenge.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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