Ireland isn’t known for having a particular large metal scene, but they do have some high calibre bands over there. Mourning Beloveth, Primordial and Cruachan are fine examples of that. Recently I stumbled upon Altar Of Plagues, an Irish atmospheric black metal ensemble. Subject of review is their White Tomb album, which is also their first full length. Let’s have a closer look.
White Tomb is by no means an easy album to get into. It contains four drawn out compositions which pass the ten minute mark with ease. In that regard comparisons with Wolves In The Thrown Room and Agalloch are easily made. Altar Of Plagues also has a lot in common with more post core orientated bands like Solstafir, Year Of No Light and, to lesser extent, Neurosis.
The musical basis is still black metal, typical shrieks and blastbeats included. The post core elements come to the foreground mainly in the way compositions like Earth: As A Womb, Earth: As A Furnace and Through The Collapse: Watchers Restrained are constructed. They have a total disregard for traditional song structures and there’s also a lot of room for soundscape like elements. The occasional almost doom like mid tempo parts and the use of acoustic instruments are somewhat reminiscent of the aforementioned Agalloch and Solstafir.
The production of White Tomb is rather detailed for black metal standards, but it’s rough enough to give this album a nice underground feeling. It also enhances the typical anguished atmosphere.
White Tomb is a real treat for the more adventurous listener. Altar Of Plagues may lack the sophistication of Agalloch, but it’s still a very solid and convincing debut album. I can’t wait for this band’s next release. Recommended!
Written by Raymond Westland