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On disc: Altar Of Plagues

Mammal - Mike Thompson - 6 stars


(Candlelight Records - 2011)

Irish black metal band Altar Of Plagues return with Mammal, the follow-up to 2009's acclaimed White Tomb. I've not heard the band before though so I was unsure what to expect.

Mammal contains just four songs, however the average length of these monsters is well over the ten minute mark. The songs are a mixture of black metal with some atmospheric, almost drone-like effects and doomy overtones. Generally the album has garnered high praise from most reviews I've seen, not quite so well-liked as its forebear White Tomb.

The black metal base of the music is decent, but never really progresses past a mid-paced tempo and the whole album just plods along lending itself to the view that the songs are over-long. There's just not enough interesting bits to hold your attention. That being said, it is in its own way quite hypnotic. You may not really be listening to it after a few minutes but you'll not find yourself reaching for the skip button either. Its not music that really offends you, it just doesn't grab you and make you listen either.

One thing which I really disliked was the ending of When The Sun Drowns In The Ocean. Is there really any need for that amount of feedback combined with that inane chanting? There could have been a point to it, sure, but to be honest by the time I got to that point of the song I wasn't really paying attention anyway.

Ok, I'm not really into depressive doom metal ( la Swallow The Sun and other 'slash-your-wrists style) which is something that Altar Of Plagues flirt with quite readily on this album as an addition to the meandering black metal base, but I try to keep an open mind and can say that if you are into the more melancholy side of metal, such as Shining, Opeth or Insomnium then you should find this album more to your taste. Not a bad album by any means - there is really nothing to be overly critical about - but I just felt the whole thing a little flat and uninteresting.

6 stars

Mike Thompson


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