Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Altar of Plagues : "Teethed Glory & Injury"

Since the last Altar of Plagues album was the first review for this blog, it's like a celebration of our second annual Irish Black Metal day. Since "Mammal" these guys have really matured. They no longer write sprawling songs that all pass the ten minute mark, not to say they have done away with the drone, noise or Ambiant elects to what they do. So the rule is unless some actual music transpires I'm not counting it as a song, so we are talking some talking toward momentum here as they will play a few notes here in their to soften the sonic sting of the noise. So we are going to say that "God Alone" is the first song.

It combines a very Godflesh element with their crispy blasty mcnasties. They allow the song to collapse and the. Come back to life with a pretty mean riff. Black metal purists might resist the groove, but giving into it isn't a bad thing here. The post rock moments are still intact, they seem a little darker on this one. The clean vocal make a return appearence in the final act of the first song but attempt to a subdued chant. The mix seems way more bass heavy and the album has a more in your face boom to it.

"A Body Shrouded" smoothly slides into the song with a Russian Circles like grace under the pressure of oppression. It fluxuates from having an industrial feel and a rock feel leaving the mean snark of the vocal the only thing really black metal as the drummer sounds like he had  been taking notes from the drummer of Russian Circles.

The almost angular intro to "Burnt Year" starts a little awkwardly. Enforce they return to the black metal. The vocals takin gon more of a Mayhem like anguish to them. Chaos ensues. It ensues in a more haphazard jazz like manner than say Deathspell Omega. The momentum is lost on this one but they are at least experimenting and it comes together at the end.

A sparsely drummed chant opens " A Remedy and a Fever". The fever must be getting to them as they are very pissed until the clean vocals come in to soothe them like a ghost. I like that dynamic and it's a great use of the more melodic vocals. The industrial influence on this album is welcome but unexpected as I never heard traces of it on the last one. I mean it even gets Nine Inch Nails on this one more so than early Swans. It very dark so that wins me over . The guitar winds up and slither through the dark maze, Like roots looking for rspe in evil dead. When I say N.I.N here it's not the poppy "Closer" moments but the Ambiant sprawl with distressed edges.

"Twelve was Ruin" congeals out of the ashes of the previous song and returns to the more post rock side. The guitar takes and intresting step back to pick with more melodic intent before flexing into a stacatto pattern. The octave chords smattered with delay are nice as it soars off into a sonic cloud that rains back down on the established pattern. The lack of vocals here I think keeps it from being an outstanding song to a really cool idea leaving the screams at the end to seem like a cop out after they have done some out of the box thinking already.

The rumbling spasms that kick off "Scald Scar of Water" don't lead you to where you think you are being taken which is the theme of the album. A galloping groove storms in and builds into the dense blast. The riff morphs into a heavier cyborg. There is a sludge like element that has replaced the industrial overtones. The harsh vocals howl along with the motion. Every thing halts into just a pulse and then the clunk and bang of the electronic returning for their revenge on the post rock swell. Clean vocals drift in to haunt the back drop.

"Found , Oval and Final" is straight up industrial tinged sludgey fare that abandons it groove for the static swathes of noise and tribal convictions the drummer returns to. This does offer tension and room to breathe at the same time. I know it's a weird mix of contradictions, but these are the dynamics the have employed. The cool riff age is what makes this return , that despite all the artful leanings at the end of the day you have to rock.

The final song "Reflection Pulse Remains" returns to the Russian Circles drumming this time with a more math like guitar riff to really highlight this fact.will this open them up to a wider audience , well is post rock really stilla thing? Marketing moves aside I think they have daringly created some nic Edward textures slabs of varying degrees of heaviness. With experimentations not every step really proves the hypothesis, but the fort to branch out is there. The weird drum section I don't think makes the most sense to get to the blast beats which now seem like "oh shit wait a second aren't we supposed to be playing black metal" though there is a touch of Liturgy in the last section.

I like the direction they are headed in and I will round this up to a 9, which will go on record as the highest score you can get when so blatantly winking at the band you are taking inspiration from. Otherwise the industrial touches help the mood, could they rein it in a little sure but the songs still hold hold even in light of some of the more indulgent sections.

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