Pretty gloomy, merging elements from black metal to post-rock and creating sometimes contorted butcheries, other moments twisted, spacy, atmospheric, ambient passages, from Cork, Ireland, Altar Of Plagues strikes again with their second full-length album and four dark, epic, tumultuous tracks. Formed in 2006, they take influence from several differerent acts such as Emperor, BjÃ¶rk and Arvo PÃ¤rt. The bands untraditional aesthetic and approach to the music has led to a wide variety of listeners and this may be seen by the diverse range of acts Altar of Plagues have toured with, including Isis and Mayhem, as well as having appeared at festivals that focus on â€˜extremeâ€™ metal and festivals that encourage experimentation and diversity.
And perhaps one of the keywords of “Mammal” is “diversity”. Taking turns from atmospheric, gloomy soundscapes they shift to fast and merciless black metal only to take another break and slow down into some tenebrous post-metal/post-rock theme.
One of my favorites is “When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean”, which seems already leads to some misinterpretations and confusion regarding the vocals featured on this track. The band explain it on their official site: “The audio is that of an old Irish funerary custom known as “keening” (from the Gaelic “caoineadh” – “to cry”). This was a vocal lament normally sang over the corpse of the deceased by an elderly women in improvised or pre-composed meter. The womans hair would be un-brushed and let hang down over the corpse to symbolise the disarray of death while expressing emotions of grief, loss, bitterness and love. Reference would be made to the deceased person’s genealogy, deeds and character and curses could be uttered if there was an identifiable person to blame for the death. The custom, although probably of ancient origin, can be dated to the 8th century and remained an integral part of Irish tradition up until the beginning of the 20th century when centuries of opposition from the church finally succeeded in abolishing it.”
The female vocals of this track and the traditional Irish songs gave a quite charming touch to this song, just like the closing male singer.
But the whole album is quite exciting, flowing darkly but nice, erupt or drown down in dark, but intense themes, it’s power and colorful, inspired and quite expressive.
Neptune is Dead
Feather and Bone
When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean
All Life Converges to Some Center