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