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Altar Of Plagues - White Tomb CD (album) cover


Altar Of Plagues

Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars This IS the Music for the End of the World!

If there's a Post-Black scale, I'd place ALTAR OF PLAGUES somewhere in the middle, with the least accessible genre's pioneers (imo) WEAKLING on the one side and almost Shoegazy ALCEST on the another. I've noticed the band (along with good old WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and newbies like CAINA) among FEN's related bands on lastfm, and what a luck, lastfm didn't lie this time!))) I've got 4 tracks/50 minutes of mindblowing Post-Black to enjoy, and I still do!

ALTARs have a lot of common features with their labelmates like YOB, YAKUZA nd BLOODY PANDA, hence their Post-Black is pretty Doomy (the 3rd track sounds like James Plotkin's KHANATE offshot actually!). Not as easy-listening as AMESOEURS, not as Avant as ARCTURUS, not as Eclectic as AGALLOCH, not as Artsy as FEN, not as Black as BURZUM, but still amazing, fresh and experimental. I even dare to state that "White Tomb" is a definitive Post-Black record and an essential album for the genre (especially for beginners). A Top-5 release from this year for me, EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!!!

Report this review (#231030)
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Black Metal to me is similar in a way to ambient music. It is about creating an atmosphere, soundscapes to allow the listener to evade his daily hassles, to detach oneself from the surroundings and immerse oneself in a "sea" of dark and depressive sounds, long riffs, shrieks, fast paced drumming and occasional interludes and shorter tracks filled with brooding effects to enhance the experience. Of course each band has their own take and creates their own variety, but there is a common basis, a shared vision that lies at the heart of this music. Altar Of Plagues from Ireland know quite well the basics of this art and builds very convincingly on them, creating a crushing, compelling and varied sort of black metal with progressive leanings.

This is not just "in your face" one chord repeated over and over with one constant rhythm music (which is good in itself for my taste); this album presents changing rhythms, multi-part songs and developing of themes that make this old-school-black-metal sounding album a gem to the fans of the genre. It is raw, yet epic in proportion, striving to be complex but not too much and at the expense of appeal, apocalyptic sounding and harsh but warms the heart while listening to it. The vocals themselves are varied: there is post-hardcore screaming as well as the more conventional shriek-like type vocals ? all fitting the music very well. All in all, the music of White Tomb depict very well what I think is the theme here, that of a crumbling Earth, due to the actions of humanity; the destruction leading this whole planet into being a big tomb for us all, animals and plants included.

There are some fabulous moments like at around 6:50 in Earth: As A Furnace, where the lead guitar plays a haunting spell-binding repetitive sound to back the heavy riffs of the rhythm guitar and bass. It then goes on to an ambient-like section where the guitar plays in the front without drums and bass, as if lamenting, creating a depressive atmosphere.

Made up of two parts (Earth and Through The Collapse), each split into two (connected) long songs, this goes on for about 50 minutes, which just seem to fly by. But as you listen to it, you realize this is in fact one long song, as they all interconnect and flow from one to another and should be heard in a single session.

An excellent varied black metal album, highly recommended.

Report this review (#234427)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars It's hard to review such thing, when you can't stand black/death metal. But this can't exclude me from reviewing this. But I also have to be responsible for picking up facts, together with feelings.

I'm quite surprised, because I like it. Well, in neutral way, because I can stand it. That'd progress at least. So, to put it short, it's not just meaningless place for heavy music with death growling, this has a meaning. And neat composition also. Or guitar sound you would kill for. Vocals (no longer humanish). It's like when you can't stand certain tone of voice, for example high pitched ones and singer unfortunately sings in this key note. It's not right to tell that I don't like this, I can't stand vocals, but it's because type of singing. Other things, like atmosphere (so dark, great work) and some other things To put it short, if death metal, then White Tomb.

Report this review (#236589)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
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.

Report this review (#439521)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink

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