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Altar of Plagues - White Tomb CD (album) cover

WHITE TOMB

Altar of Plagues

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.79 | 47 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'White Tomb' - Altar Of Plagues (8/10)

Looking into the numerous EPs by what might be called Ireland's response to Wolves In The Throne Room, Altar Of Plagues' debut full-length 'White Tomb' had some high expectations from me before going into it. After having heard great acclaim concerning the band's fifty minute opus as well as some positive experiences with the band's dynamic take on post-black metal, the bar was set fairly high, and although I haven't found myself entirely blown away by everything the record has to offer, Altar Of Plagues does deliver here. Divided into four winding pieces of experimental and highly atmospheric black metal, 'White Tomb' takes a while to get into, but it has been a journey worth taking.

Altar Of Plagues first came across my radar as being just another one of those black metal bands that throws a few post-rock elements into their music, then calls it a day. Their extended play 'Sol' really changed that few I had though; hearing ample doses of melody and powerful songwriting style really set the band apart from the typical 'grim' black metal act. 'White Tomb' follows this sound up quite well, but tends to drag the compositions out, giving them much more time to build and muster. With soundscapes thrown into the middle of the tracks that sometimes last for several minutes, there is a great bit of dynamic and rest from the heavier parts.

Although there is good reason for Altar Of Plagues to fall underneath the 'black metal' label, a fair amount of has more to do with post-rock than anything else. Often the band will gradually switch between harsh tremolo picking, vocal rasps and blast beats into a soothing flanger of guitars. The transitions are handled fairly smoothly, although it may have been nice to hear a little more combination of the two, instead of keeping the sounds distinct and separate. Of the two styles, I find myself more drawn towards the darker, heavier aspect of Altar Of Plagues; they really manage to take what I previously thought was a dying style and play it with passion. The post-rock elements are fairly minimalistic and take a while longer to warm up to, and it can feel like some of the build ups go on for too long, without enough of a pay-off to warrant it.

Parts of 'White Tomb' certainly tread into the realm of dark ambient, so should one be looking out for a record that keeps the energy high, be forewarned. The album has impressed me as an incredibly dynamic and atmospheric piece of black metal however, surely putting Ireland on the map for this particular style of extreme metal.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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