By Dr. Abner Mality

Altered Existence from Peoria, IL have had a lot of rough luck over their career, including some pretty scary health situations for bassist/singer Mark Ellsworth. But they keep trudging onward in hopes that they can grow as a band. Their last LP "Something Unknown" was not without interest but to be frank, it sounded dirt cheap and lacked heaviness for an extreme metal band.

Happy to say that "Eyeconic" is a step forward in every direction for Altered Existence. Honestly, there are still places where this begs for a meatier production, but the material is catchy, powerful and well executed. The style is no-frills and not overly technical, but they mix speeds well and when they hit a killer groove, it's tough to keep your head still. Opener "When The Reaper Comes" almost has a black metal feel but soon unleashes gnarly mid-paced hooks. Celtic Frost sometimes comes to mind when hearing the slower riffs. "Shadow Rider" is straight-up death/doom.

My favorite cut here is "Stonedizm", which is fast, ripping and right to the point. Other highlights are "As Sickness Feeds", "Roaches" and "Altered Existence".  The production could stand to be beefed up even more and I think the band might be advised to add a rhythm guitarist. When Jon Neukirk does a lead solo, there needs to be a powerful guitar plugging away in the background.

A step forward for Altered Existence. If the next album leaps ahead as much as this album has from "Something Unknown", it will be deadly!