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Altar of Plagues. (Courtesy of the artist)

Altar Of Plagues: Scalding, Industrial Chants From Ireland

by Lars Gotrich
Apr 12, 2013

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Lars Gotrich

There's something to be said for unconventional artists who can still connect to an audience. The band Broadcast funneled oddball library-catalog music through dreamy space-pop. Shabazz Palaces is hip-hop's cubist Sun Ra. Altar of Plagues, which works outside the roots of black metal, knows a thing or two about unconventional sounds. But the Irish band has, until now, strictly been a longform outfit, stretching drones and abrasive tones across sides of vinyl.

With clustered chords out of Deathspell Omega, industrial heft via Ministry and Godflesh, and some gritty Fennesz-like electronics, Teethed Glory and Injury is the kind of anything-goes metal record that will likely prove divisive. It's also surprisingly immediate for something that consciously moves outward. Opening with a lobotomized chug, "Scald Scar of Water" encompasses a little bit of all of the above.

But that list of names is worthless unless a band makes sense of them. Listen to the way the blast beat comes in and out of focus in "Scald Scar of Water," blurred by a pervading synthesized siren one moment, then drilling and punctuating a guitar squeal the next. Four minutes in, the bottom drops out completely with a barely perceptible rhythmic hiss and pop, like the needle hitting the end of a record. It's an uneasy reprieve before the Tool-esque coda, bolstered by a thudding fuzz bass and a prayerful chant.

Teethed Glory and Injury is out April 30 on Profound Lore Records.

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