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┌(・。・)┘♪ - 18%

OzzyApu, October 3rd, 2013

The turbulent, expansive soundscapes which built upon each other and blossomed into prosperous climaxes are completely dead. Hearing this is essentially hearing guitars belching and the idea of that happening and not being something appealing in a grotesque, curious way is upsetting. This is Altar Of Plagues, a band which had a considerable amount of skill venturing into the unknown through atmospheric channels. The blend of influences supplanting sheer viciousness worked in their favor as harmonies streamed forth from a sea of noise, black metal, post-metal / rock and contemporary overtones. It was ingenuity that allowed them to pull off something so vast in scope and maintain melody, intricacy, and intrigue without funneling themselves into dullness, technicality, or mindlessness. For some reason, that dullness, technicality, and mindlessness that they avoided for two full albums somehow became the goal for Teethed Glory And Injury.

To put albums like Mammal and White Tomb in perspective and to help understand just how much I enjoyed them, I have to quote Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II – The Sith Lords. When I hear those albums:

”It is like a current that passes through you, and carries you with it to all the places it touches.”

That line was used as an option to describe the Force, and I feel like it perfectly describes Plagues’ previous work. That isn’t even in the least the case with this one. To give it some respect, it’s got sections that nail it with zealous leads or when the writing does without the sporadic jumpiness. The ending to “Twelve Was Ruin” is one such example and for such a pointlessly long, grating song, the ending to it is enthralling. It starts out thumping and pulsating like a song off Neurosis’ Enemy Of The Sun and is similar in… wait, no I’m not even going to go there. This isn’t like that because it’s devoid of any quality layering or finish. It’s bare bones in riffing with dirty distortion, backwash sound effects, and automated nature. After some ghostly clean vocals improperly placed, the song breaks back into a rhythm. Of course, its catchiness is equal to that of ripping strings off a guitar. Thankfully, this ends by around the five and a half minute mark and what follows is absolutely riveting. It’s a comprehensive amalgamation of all the right things that creates great spacey atmosphere – floatingly-slow pace, keys / electronic effects that add to the cosmic scope, and reliance on guitars in a post-rock fashion for proper melody.

In fact, that’s the way I prefer the guitars to be on this album, otherwise it trudges with its dry-ass tone; a tone with no bite. It’s forceful but is the incorrect way to go about playing with this type of music. It all comes down to the quote I provided up top. Do what needs to be done to move me – to make me feel a galaxy’s worth of gravity is bearing down on me. That level of power and the velocity at which it hits has been almost fully removed, and what’s left in its place is soulless misdirection. Drumming is even screwed up when it’s doing blast beats just to match the soggy dread the leads are striving to capture. Blast beats are normal, though; sometimes it’s tribal, sometimes it’s stampeding, and a lot of the time crashes down standardly. Bass should be massive and overbearing, not blubbery and pithy as it is here. At this point I’m just dictating how they should sound, but that to me is how they’d be most effective. The snarly screams are the only real unchanged part, still sounding desiccated and impure. However, it doesn’t have the same impact or appeal as before when it’s pasted over the crap that’s playing on this thing.

Also, what’s up with the transitions on this album? It starts and stops like it was patched together without the thought to keep continuity intact. This criticism applies mostly to transitions within songs but between songs isn’t safe, either. “Mills” sounds like either string instruments meandering or an electric razor buzzing for a couple minutes and then it splits into the siren-like build up the band is known for until “God Alone” kicks in unexpectedly. Were they trying to make these two sound like one long track? It fails to reenact that desire, instead derailing the previous track and giving no time to let it sink in before I’m battered by one of the most atonal, non-catchy riffs I’ve ever heard. “God Alone” picks apart at my brain with its choppy, DUDGE-DUDGE, DUDGE-DUDGE riffing (which is a recurring style for this entire album). Progressive metalcore bands do this to squeeze in some djent but when they do it it’s catchy as shit, whereas the ones here prove that guitars can shriek in pain. Only “A Remedy And A Fever” was spared in this regard. It’s still annoying when it’s as though a song has creative things thrown into it but the end result is drier than a desert.

Teethed Glory And Injury is like noise-influenced black metal loitering and having no idea what to do with itself besides plowing through with nonsensical writing. One word that gets overused to describe bands in recent years is “dissonant”. This band revels in dissonance, but there’s creating something brooding (i.e. akin to “Procession Of The Dead Clowns” by Blut Aus Nord) and creating idiocy and passing it off as intellectual (which the first two already were intellectual without the idiocy, and didn't need to ruin itself in order to prove). That plus a lack of coherency kills this album faster than interpretive dancing will kill me if I tried it. It’s got some good parts and “A Remedy And A Fever” was good the whole way through, but man is Altar Of Plagues’ send-off a bomb.