Altar of Plagues


Written by: EW on 09/05/2011 23:08:30

There is a tide coming and it is sweeping clean the regimentation of black metal. On the back of 2009's excellent "White Tomb" LP (rereleased last year) comes Altar of Plagues second full-length, the intriguingly titled "Mammal". Resting on the base of organic, lengthy compositions that was seen previously, AoP have this time cut down on the post-apocalyptical drone doom that permeated the second half of "White Tomb" to instead transpose a mixture of emotionally charged spoken-word and slower, earthly black metal. This is BM very much as we known it but devoid of it's theatrics and falsities…

19-minute opener "Neptune Is Dead" crashes into life after a lengthy atmospheric introduction with the kind of hypnotic riffs and pounding drumbeat that has been key to the rise of other 'post-BM' acts like Wolves in the Throne Room and Wodensthrone. Besides this however AoP do not lack for their own cutting edge as the post-metal dynamic borne in the likes of Cult of Luna, Bossk and Neurosis plays a considerable role through "Feather and Bone". In an album of 4 tracks spanning 51 minutes the Irish act do rather well to keep the momentum flowing and attention resolute. Why might this be, you ask? The clean vocals used with good effect at varying points help create a nice contradiction to the hoarse rasp at home in the sharper moments of "All Life Converges To Some Center", and let's not forget the countless riffs converging together with such great conviction in every track that it is impossible not to feel effected by the goings-on here.

"When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean" opens and concludes with the haunting wailing vocals of an unknown lady (to myself at least) which bookend the slowest and most obvious divergence from traditional BM in the album, while it is closer "All Life Converges To Some Center" that cements in the mind the image of decaying human existence, not the more clichéd dark Scandinavian forest. Altar of Plagues emerge from the shroud a band capable of creating breathtaking, yet harsh beauty and it's results that suggests they are fully intent of pushing BM into directions we could not have imagined just a few years ago.


Download: Neptune is Dead, All Life Converges to Some Center
For The Fans Of: Wolves in the Throne Room, Wodensthrone, Fen
Listen: Myspace

Rerelease date: 25.04.2011
Profound Lore Records

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