Thursday, July 22, 2010

Altar of Plagues: Sol (2008) Review

Sure, I say I'm going to give up on post-metal, but I keep going back to it like it's a manipulative girlfriend. This time it'll be different, I keep telling myself. Well, this time it really was different.

Altar of Plagues is a post-black metal band from Ireland with an apparent dedication to the EP as a format. Earlier this year, they released their third EP since forming in 2006, having released only one LP thus far.

But the EP strategy seems to be working out well for them, as Sol is a very good listen. And, since it's short (a little over a half hour), it may please even those without the attention span to handle post-metal.

Consisting of an intro and three songs, the album seems to go on a journey of musical evolution from the relatively straight-forward ambient black metal of "The Titan Skies", to the much more Isis-like "Twisted Structures Against the Sun", to the even more shoegazing "With Fire in Our Veins We Drown in Light", though the black metal elements are clearly evident on all the tracks. Ignoring the progressively ludicrous song titles, the individual tracks are engaging, and they evolve naturally into one another. This is exactly what post-metal should be.

(This isn't the most representative song on the album, but it's the only one I could find on Youtube.)

The Verdict: This is great post-metal mixed with black metal, a combination which is obvious on its surface but has rarely been done. The reason it hasn't been done may be that there is almost no market for something too scary-sounding for the hipsters and too hipster-sounding for the scary people. For someone who just loves metal, and wants to hear something done really well, Sol is an excellent EP. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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