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Band Name Altar Of Plagues
Album Name Mammal
Type Album
发布日期 25 四月 2011
音乐风格Black Metal


1. Neptune Is Dead 18:44
2. Feather and Bone 11:42
3. When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean 08:18
4. All Life Converges to Some Center 13:15
Total playing time 51:59

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评阅 @ Satanicarchangel

19 十一月 2013

Natural Evolution

As with all art forms, progression is to be expected to prevent the product from growing stale. Many an artist has fallen foul to the risk of stagnation, whether through refusal to change or a sense of nostalgia for their tried and true methods. Either way you look at it, stagnation needs to be avoided at all cost to ensure the success of the art world. It would be easy for art to remain a never ending constant, where experimentation is frowned upon and adhering to tried and true conventions is a highly prized priority. However this would only result in the impending implosion of the artistry world, with a high level of stagnation how would art move out of the sludge it has created around it? Continuous experimentation is vital for the success of the art world, music and film in particular. People have relatively short attention spans and to think that they can sit idly by whilst being spoon fed the same old thing hints at a high level of delusion. With experimentation comes great reward, something that is incredibly true in the metal world.

Black metal in particular is a genre that often succumbs to the foul breath of stagnation. With a refusal to alter from the sound laid down by the grim Norwegian forefathers, black metal is at serious risk of losing any and all merit it had going for it. Whilst there is a strong underground scene keeping the genre in good health, the mainstream side of things highlights a refusal to change and a fear of experimentation. Bands who have been cited as pushing the genre into new territories have often been lambasted by the black metal masses, with bands such as Alcest being criticized left, right and center on an enormous scale. Black metal fans get incredibly hard up when changes have been made to the genres template; usually these artists are often considered not true enough and adding undesirable additions to the black metal sound. Whilst experimentation at times can go against the spirit of the genre, I often find that artists have great success with experimenting with this grim and frostbitten artwork.

Altar of Plagues is a band who surely can’t be criticized as “untrue.” With long songs consisting of heavy distortion, high levels of minimalism and anguished vocals, Altar of Plagues are adding their own personal twist to the genre. By pooling in elements from post rock, ambient and drone, Altar of Plagues is a band capable of revitalizing what many see as a dying genre. This Irish band has maintained the true spirit of the genre whilst adding their own unique flavor, creating an utterly distinctive and atmospherically poignant black metal sound. Mammal isn't that much of a departure from the droning and emotionally cathartic White Tomb, both albums are exercises in droning and minimalist black metal, often working around the crescendos associated with post rock. Both of these albums are incredible at creating a powerful and desperate atmosphere, yet the atmosphere emulated is a little different. White Tomb was intense, cruel and harrowing, painted a very bleak picture of an urbanized planet. Mammal is more grandiose and not as bleak, whilst the atmosphere of a never ending coldness is still here in great amounts, Mammal as a whole feels more human and organic. White Tomb felt dead, it was cold, cruel and abrasive. Mammal feels more alive, more fluid; the songs have a much greater sense of dynamics and transitions, with each song continuing to flow fluidly into one and another. There’s a much greater sense of the post metal epoch going on within Mammal. Heavy black metal sections and soothing post rock bleed into each other seamlessly, there’s no sense that the transitions were abrupt. They’re all fluid, all entirely natural. None of the elements feel awkwardly juxtaposed; it’s a perfect blending of many styles that creates an utterly astounding listen.

Whilst many could criticize Altar of Plagues as losing their edge from White Tomb, I personally see it as more of a shift in gears rather than a blip in the quality of the music. Mammal feels more relaxed than White Tomb, not as droning, down to earth. It feels as a natural spiritual progression from the debut. Mammal is a far less apocalyptic affair, it’s still as dim but the whole affair isn't as destructive. There’s a greater sense of how to create a calming atmosphere, guitars drone on just like the debut but they’re not as abrasive. Riffing seems much more refined, more progressive sludge oriented, not as droning. The music changes more, constantly allowing the music to maintain a high level of atmospheric beauty. There’s a strong sense of experimentation within this album, not so much in the way of influences but in how the songs are structured. Song structures lean far closer to bands such as Isis and Neurosis than any other black metal band. Songs are constantly shifting, moving between harsh and abrasive sections and lighter, more relaxing ambiance. The crescendos are immaculately produced and well thought out, constantly resulting in a soaring and majestic climax. Mammal comes off as highly cinematic; to best describe it this is epic black metal. The atmosphere is grandiose yet suitably bleak. Vocals are a harrowing shriek and howl, they sound very detached and distant, they’re a perfect fit for the album. I appreciate how they’re not overused and instead feature a relatively sparse presence within the music. It allows them to create an even greater effect when they finally are deployed, adding a stronger sense of depravity to the album.

Mammal is an excellent follow up to White Tomb. The signature style of post black metal that Altar of Plagues had created has been further tampered and experimented with, creating an altogether beast than its predecessor. The haunting atmosphere is strong and powerful, there’s a strong sense of ruin and decay yet it doesn't come off as apocalyptic as White Tomb. It despairs at the concept of ruin, and channels this perfectly into the music. It’s suitably downtrodden and dismal, the music comes off as fairly lethargic and apathetic, creating the music through an underlying sense of sick duty rather than out of a passion for art. Mammal sees the band carrying on with their apocalyptic black metal style yet moving into even more austere and eclectic territories. This is a fantastic second album for one of the best bands in the scene. Highly recommended.

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