Altar Of Plagues - Mammal
The phrase “atmospheric black metal” should get all sorts of alarm bells ringing, conjuring up as it does images of spotty teenagers releasing horrifyingly recorded, Burzum-worshipping cassettes; however, Irish trio Altar Of Plagues are doing a good job of debunking the preconceptions, and with second album Mammal have indeed produced a fine black metal record drenched in singularly bleak and foreboding atmospherics. The huge scope of the opening nineteen minute opus ‘Neptune Is Dead’ calls to mind fellow countrymen Primordial and their knack of distilling the remote, isolated beauty of their homeland into song and, by contrast, the claustrophobia of the traditional keening in ‘When The Sun Drowns In The Ocean’ haunts the listener long after the crackle of the old vinyl fades. There is such a swell of despair throughout Mammal, and drawn out as it is over just four gargantuan tracks, makes it almost unbearable – almost, but not quite. Altar Of Plagues have delivered something that, whilst indigestible to most, is a rich and beautiful offering.