Altar Of Plagues are an Irish ensemble specialised in making an eerie and catatonic combination of black metal and postcore. They’ve been around for quite some time now, resulting in a couple of EP’s and one full length album, entitled White Tomb. These guys make a grand return with their latest effort, called Mammal.
I was (and still am) quite impressed with White Tomb. Despite the obvious references to Agalloch and Wolves In The Throne Room the band managed to forge an original sound of their own. Their new album Altar Of Plagues really rises to the occasion. They have managed to find a better balance between the black metal and postcore components. The references to Wolves In The Throne Room and Agalloch are still present, but far less obvious. That’s a very positive development in my book.
The true magic of Mammal can be found in the song material itself. Neptune Is Dead, Feather And Bone, When The Sun Drowns and All Life Converges To Some Center are drawn out compositions meandering through piercingly sharp black metal parts, psychedelic and drone elements and other postcore related wizardry. There are some new elements to the Altar Of Plagues sound too. Feather And Bone contains some Primordial styled clean vocals and When The Sun Drowns has some Celtic ritual chants, which gives the track an avant-garde feel.
Compared to the previous album Mammal has a way better production. Especially the drum sound has improved considerably. This makes the album somewhat more accessible, but mind you, the material is still rough around the edges.
Altar Of Plagues really managed to bring things to the next level on Mammal. The song material is better balanced and the production reflects the band’s achievement. If you’re into experimental and adventurous metal and you don’t mind a rough edge, this is the record to go for.
Written by Raymond Westland