Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Altar of Plagues: Teethed Glory and Injury (2013)

Post-Post-Black Metal

Altar of Plagues was one of the originators of post-black metal half a decade ago, and since then it has been a growing field. I wouldn’t say it’s oversaturated, but it has become a corner of the metalverse that’s attracted a lot of “hipster” accusations, deservedly or not. Perhaps that’s why AoP decided to get away from the genre, or perhaps they simply wanted to explore something else. Either way, Teethed Glory and Injury marks a stark change in direction for the Irish band.

There are a lot of commonalities between the old Altar of Plagues and the new Altar of Plagues, but only at a genetic level. The expression of those genes has been altered. It’s as if they went into a cocoon and completely deconstructed themselves into a new form. You can throw the “post-“ out the window here. Instead, the terms “progressive” and “industrial” would be more appropriate, but any comparisons to Aborym or Enslaved would be facile. Just as when they began recording music, they are complete originals.

For those who expected more Mammal, opener “Mills” operates as a warning. The strings are something they might have done before, but the rumbling bass and single chords are clearly different. More importantly, there are electronic sounds. Then “God Alone” breaks through with klaxon guitars and chaotic drums. Gone are the time-stretching passages, and, for the most part, the shimmering tremolo-picked riffs. They’ve held onto the dynamics, the hard/soft and quiet/loud in particular, but the shifts come faster and are far more frequently. They still occasionally bear a resemblance to Tool (“Twelve Was Ruin”). They play to a sense of anticipation here and there (“A Remedy and a Fever”), but with a lot less build and a lot more payoff. And, there’s more experimentation, like the drums alternating between fill and silence (“A Body Shrouded”) in addition to interesting blasts, or Cynic-like computer-distorted singing in addition to black metal screeches.

Where the rest of the post-black bands seem to be getting softer and prettier, Altar of Plagues have instead gotten less beautiful and more terrifying. The results are stunning, and the bass-friendly production—which sounds natural despite the added electronics—ensures that minds will be blown.

This is their best work, and that’s saying a lot.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

OK, honestly, I'm not connecting with this music video at all. Best to just listen.

Profound Lore Records


  1. What is up with the video? That is ridiculous. It's the kind of thing a college theater class would put together. Believe me, I dated a theater major back in college. Saw a lot of that crap.

  2. Yeah. I thought for a second that the hipster accusations might be right. But then I thought, no, that just doesn't stand up to scrutiny of the music. I don't understand it at all. An extreme metal video should not have a bunch of young, attractive people dancing; that should go without saying.

  3. I love the video. I think young attractive people dancing is _exactly_ what an extreme metal video needs :)

    Sigh, another album to wait for to appear on Bandcamp (shakes fist at Profound Lore).