Alteras - Grief Review

Alteras has been poised to make an impression, as they have on many, with their debut album Grief, which came out on August 5th!

This Youngstown, Ohio quintet are no strangers to impressions, having made a great one with their Shapeshifter EP in 2015. This release effectively caught the attention of Alesana's Shawn Milke, who signed the band to his label Revival Recordings in faith that their next moves would make waves. Was his a wise decision? What does Altera's newest release have in store for listeners?

Alteras is a band that gives a damn. They aren't just writing music in hopes of getting noticed, they're doing it to get their message of positivity to the public. As they have stated, their mission is to make music for the people who need it the most, and Grief is a direct reflection of this. Focusing on hardship in its many forms, the content of this album has gotten the band itself through hard times during the writing process, so hopefully by extension it can bring others that sense of fulfillment in their time of need.

Grief Track List:

1. Broke
2. Could Ever Love
3. Everything You Wanted

4. Scars
5. After All
6. Something More
7. Black Box
8. Can't Go Back
9. Oh, Tragedy
10. Out Of Reach
11. Feel

While I didn't feel this personally (probably because my life isn't particularly tumultuous at present), I did mostly enjoy the album. What's funny to me is that this band is labeled so many different things. I've seen them labeled as hard rock and then metal, then garner comparisons to Taking Back Sunday and Cute Is What We Aim For... It's ridiculous, because it's so clear to me from their sound that they are pure modern post-hardcore. Think Underoath. Think Memphis May Fire and Crown The Empire. Like these bands, Alteras features a wide range of stylistic mix-ups throughout their music, exploring the extremes of melody and heaviness in the frame which still stays true to their sound. Not every song conforms to a single genre. The first two songs on the album, "Broke" and "Could Ever Love" don't sound at all alike stylistically. On top of this, "Black Box" is a wonderful acoustic palette-cleanser in the middle of the album, while "Feel" is a pop-punky rise to the occasion and call to arms to feel more, which ties up the album very cleanly and leaves the listener some food for thought. The one and only constant is that it all sounds purely, unapologetically like Alteras, which is arguably the most crucial part of the whole formula.

Alteras throws me back to a more exciting time in the late aughts, when post-hardcore albums laden with real heart, bone-rattling rage, and unrequited love were coming out. In this sense, Grief is a return to form, and a welcome one at that. Those of us who truly found something we enjoyed in the musicality of the time will be satisfied by every twist and turn the music takes. 

Vocalist Jacob Clasen's performance is particularly heart-wrenching, and fluidly conforms to what the rest of the band is aiming to do with each cut off the album. He adds reserve to tracks that brim with aggression, making the moments that they let loose all the more poignant. The band is a cohesive unit, and the music is tight, ambient, and evocative.

My one qualm may be that a few of the songs on the album are a tad similar in feel. Songs like "Scars", "Oh, Tragedy", "Something More", and others are very straight-forwardly post-hardcore, which isn't necessarily to say that they're bad. I think as a debut album, Grief provides a solid foundation for this band to build on. Next time around, the vocals need be more emotive and the band needs to get more experimental. That being said, Alteras put together a stellar album and should be applauded for their efforts.

This album deserves a solid 8/10.

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