Altar of Plagues

White Tomb

Written by: EW on 08/10/2010 11:11:02

Following on from recent reviews of the most excellent albums from English pagan black metallers Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone and Finn(s) October Falls is yet another record sitting in the genre that comes to you with my heartily recommendation. I keep giving out marks like these and people will start thinking there's something dodgy going on here…

"White Tomb" is Ireland's Altar of Plagues debut album and like the aforementioned bands is a pummeling and organic black metal album shot straight from the heart with nay but a thought given to commercial appeal. The lengthy songs on "White Tomb" (four filling 50 minutes) most closely resemble Wodensthrone's "Loss" of the three with many a period of oppressive cyclical riffing but here, as seen best in "Earth II - As A Furnace" and "Through the Collapse IV - Gentian Truth", AoP mix it up with dashes of post-metal atmosphere and in "Through The Collapse III - Watchers Restrained" a willingness to join it all up with moments of spiritually draining Khanate/Burning Witch-like droning doom.

I've never been one to hide my love of lengthy songs and so when a band appear that comfortably manage to fill 15 minutes of near total bleakness as in "Earth II - As A Furnace" the right buttons are bound to be feeling stimulated. More than just varying vocal styles, tempos and the requisite atmosphere to make a strong impression, AoP show the happy knack of knowing how to control their ambient influences and plethora of sounds for the purpose of making challenging and uncomfortable listening with closer "Through the Collapse IV" epitomising such a spirit through it Cult of Luna-like leads and strangely positive ambience. Furthering their difference from obvious comparators such as WITTR and Drudkh, for whom the smell is firmly of rural woodland and natural organic life, is the vibe AoP have magicked up of desolute urban landscapes and decaying civilisation. It may sound like not much but it goes some way to giving AoP an identity of their own, an all important facet in the BM underground.

Being as the track names are effectively split in two and that a noticeable difference is apparent in each half, it is the "Earth" section taking my fancy. Wolves in the Throne Room-like in it's intensity, this is exchanged for greater solemnity and experimentation in "Through the Collapse"; by no means two bad songs but ones that demand more in the way of acclimatisation than I have so far been able to give. "White Tomb", like those others recently reviewed, is another highly recommended BM release for anyone with even half an interest in the genre and one showing Norway's long-held dominance of the genre might be up for review.

8

Download: Earth II - As A Furnace, Earth I - As A Womb
For the fans of: Wolves in the Throne Room, Wodensthrone, Burning Witch
Listen: Myspace

Original release date 17.04.2009
Profound Lore Records

Reissue release date 12.07.10
Candelight Records

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