Thursday, 30 May 2013

Altar Of Plagues- Teethed Glory and Injury

Artist: Altar of Plagues
Album: Teethed Glory and Injury
Record Label: Tanglade Ltd.

Irish Black Metallers 3rd is a majestic showcase of superior knowledge and sensitivity

The link between Black Metal and spiritualism is not one that needs to be delved into in great depth here, as anyone remotely versed in Extreme Metal is probably aware. It is an important touch stone in this review however, because Ireland's second most premier Black Metallers Altar of Plagues very much deal in spiritualism of a kind. Not Satanism, not Shamanism and certainly not Religion; "Teethed Glory and Injury" deals in a type of belief system that sometimes transcends even words.

The calibre of band that Altar of Plagues are, and the pedigree of record that "Teethed Glory and Injury" is means that this is an album that requires you to bend down and succumb to the absolute power of music. It's steeped in atmosphere, both lyrically and musically, and it's one that navigates its way through a myriad of genres and influences, often without batting an eyelid.

Opener "Mills" is a festival of droning, ominous violins and stabs of dark, rumbling bass, not too far astray from Electronica's darkest son of late, The Haxan Cloak. A surprising weapon made ambitious use of here is the ability to rock unconventional grooves effortlessly, such as the punishing off- kilter grit of "God Alone" or the even stranger Hip Hop bounce that carries the first two minutes of "Burnt Year." The latter then descends into nightmarish blastbeats and howls more wretched and tortured than at any other point during the record.

"A Remedy and a Fever" ascends from Medieval Puritan darkness to a glacial, almost hymnal projection from a lost valley and ends on 2 minutes of pulsating, spectral electronic beauty. Nothing transcends the triumphant lurch of closer "Reflection Pulse Remains" however. All stargazing melodies that fly above comprehension, if the crushing crescendos that bring the track to a close don't move you even a tiny bit then you must have a heart of stone.

The heights reached on "Teethed Glory and Injury" are such that many an equally experimental Black Metal band would struggle to reach. It's easily Altar of Plagues' most accomplished work to date, although it's probably far too genre hopping to ever be a critically accalimed "masterpiece." But we mere humans must bow down and embrace it for what it is- Majestic.

Key Tracks: Reflection Pulse Remains, A Remedy and a Fever, Twelve Was Ruined

For fans of: Agalloch, Sunn0))), The Haxan Cloak


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Late Morning: A Bumper review special

Hi folks,

I know I've been incredibly complacent with reviews recently, exams and other scheduled things have been getting in my way. Here are a few short reviews of albums that I've been listening to over the past few weeks and haven't had a chance to write about them properly. I should have more time now to go back to writing about music properly, and as such there should be more full- length reviews coming within the next week. In the meantime, here are three pretty good records that deserve your attention.

Artist: Art Brut
Album: Top Of The Pops
Record Label: The End Records

A Greatest Hits re- affirming Art Brut's vital position as Indie's most talented comics

It’s with all their righteous self- awareness that Art Brut have called their first greatest hits album “Top of the Pops”, and in a way it says everything it needs to about why this is such a great nostalgia trip. “Formed a Band” sounds as much an ironic statement of intent as it did 10 years ago, the romantic comedy of “Emily Kane” is Inbetweeners- awkwardness and thus still relevant, whilst tracks like “Alcoholics Unanimous” sounds like genuine pain. As funny, talented and awkward as always.

Key Tracks: Emily Kane, Direct Hit, Pump Up the Volume

For Fans Of: The Fall, Pulp, Gang of Four


Artist: Ghostpoet
Album: Some Say I So I Say Light
Record Label: N/A

A succulent exercise in expansive melancholy

Succulent melancholy is what Obaro Ejimiwe specialises in, and he expands his said field in innovative and poetic style on album number 2. Even if his lyrics aren’t the most potent, the sonic textures and immersive movements that ripple throughout every track here are enough to make even the most stone hearted entranced, especially on the angular funk of “Plastic Bag Brain” and the fluid Gwilym Gold featuring “Dorsal Morsel.” Sparse and cold but swelling and dextrous, it’s a musically evolutionary journey. 

Key Tracks: Plastic Bag Brain, Dorsal Morsel, Dial Tones

For Fans Of: Squarepusher, Roots Manuva, Radiohead


Artist: Vampire Weekend
Album: Modern Vampires of the City
Record Label: XL

Modern life is rubbish...

For all their slightly whimsical and eccentric art- pop fun of yesteryear, Ezra Koenig’s crew are back to tell us how life really is on album number 3. And who would have thought it? “Modern Vampires…” is a distinctly authentic, current record that does away with guitars and illustrious African experimentation for something more controlled, more languorous and something with the American heartland as it’s backdrop for tales of modern life’s most persistent bloodsuckers. It also often taps in to something wonderful. 

Key Tracks: Ya Hey, Everlasting Arms, Don't Lie

For Fans Of: Simon & Garfunkel, Talking Heads