Friday, May 24, 2013

Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory And Injury

Altar Of Plagues impressed me yet again with Mammal. I'm not big on the whole 'cascadian' black metal thing, so to do so was quite a feat. Mammal resonated well with me and it was an emotionally compelling release. When I heard they were making Teethed Glory And Injury I wrote it down as something to keep tabs on.

Then the video for "God Alone" was released, and I was a little confused.

I don't give a fuck about 'hipsterism' or some stupid label attributed to a band's aesthetic by metal dorks in an attempt to discredit the music. I just want to hear the music. If the band thought that interpretive dance was fitting imagery for the song then I'll try to see it from their point of view in an attempt to get the most out of the experience. So I decided to give Teethed Glory And Injury a chance rather than dismissing it outright, and to be honest I quite liked the music video and song. "God Alone" is one of the best tracks on the album.

Altar Of Plagues have always straddled ambient with long synthetic passages buried throughout their albums. They've had their flirtations with drone as well, and both drone and ambient are bigger elements on Teethed Glory And Injury. Dissonant drone chords are at the forefront of the Altar Of Plagues repertoire and they're present on nearly every track. The same dance-esque rhythm is featured multiple times. "God Alone," "Twelve Was Ruin," and "Scald Scar Of Water" all feature a very similar guitar rhythm that is both catchy and irritatingly redundant. New rhythms on "Found, Oval and Final" and the final track "Reflection Pulse Remains" are a welcome change, but by that late in the album the damage is already done. The weak drone element is one of my biggest complaints about Teethed Glory And Injury. Where drone can be interesting in its simplicity, here it feels bombastic and underdeveloped.

The occasional clean vocal sections do rear their head. They generally serve as interludes and outros, keeping themselves unintrusive. They're mixed low enough to avoid being distracting, and serve to add texture and context to tracks. The production is fine for this sort of  'rhythmic' black metal approach too. I just don't know how well Altar Of Plagues have executed that approach...

Something that bothers me about Teethed Glory And Injury though is that where Altar Of Plagues' previous output felt coherent and each album felt single-minded in its attempt to convey a particular message, this one doesn't. I guess it's because the music feels like it clashes with itself - the ambient mixed with the bombastic, almost djent-like rhythms. The reappearing of the same drone patterns throughout the album reminds me of a poorly handled rendition of Deathspell Omega's "Epiklesis" on Paracletus. Sadly Teethed Glory And Injury isn't nearly as compelling as that album though.

5.5 out of 10

1. Mills
2. God Alone
3. A Body Shrouded
4. Burnt Year
5. Twelve Was Ruin
6. A Remedy And A Fever
7. Scald Scar Of Water
8. Found, Oval and Final
9. Reflection Pulse Remains

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