Altar of Plagues - Tides EP (Burning World, 2010)

My interest in exploring new black metal has really washed out to sea in the last year. That growing tide of indifference led me to pass on Altar of Plagues' White Tomb, despite a boatload of acclaim. News that the band would cross the Atlantic for a North American tour this summer eventually nudged me to check out the EP of which we speak. Tides flipped my dinghy on the first listen, tossing my black metal ennui overboard. These two songs (clocking in at 36 minutes) will dump you straight into the fathomless freezing depths to ponder the Pyrrhic victory that is existence.

“Atlantic Light” is possessed of a tonality that rolls like a tolling bell. To my ears, these riffs manage to transcend the atmospheric black metal norm, rolling along in grand melodic gestures that are propelled by the steady drumming. There's not even that much distortion on the guitars, but that's irrelevant. There is an emotional power here that's immersive and immense. I'm fascinated by the guitar stylings on these tracks; the subtle distortion lays bare the tremolo picked notes that would otherwise blend together into a wave of noise. There are some moments when I'm positively blown away by the maelstrom of melodies that flow from these guitars.

Tides is a journey through melancholy and rage with no lifeboat. Part of the appeal of these tracks is the transposition of traditional black metal screeches with semi-sung/screamed vocals that exude a crushing hopelessness. The lyrics to “Atlantic Light” are a fascinating meditation on the mighty ocean and mankind's unceasing quest to drain it of life. “The Weight of it All” dwells in the same emotional space, pondering our ability to blissfully ignore weighty matters.

At no point during these two expansive tracks does my attention wander. I personally consider the word “drone” to be a epithet in metal, and these songs do no such thing for me. As with any decent exploration of atmospheric black metal, the excellent drumming is a cornerstone of the songs' dynamics. “The Weight Of It All” contains the lion-share of blastbeats, navigating through a bleak tempest with a coxswain's discipline and a pleasantly organic drum sound.

In retrospect, Tides is much less produced than White Tomb, and I think that's part of its allure. An excellent interview with James Kelly (over at Brooklyn Vegan) provided quite a bit of insight into the spirit of this EP and also transcribes the lyrics. White Tomb obviously grew on me and is now a cherished brick in my metal wall, but Tides holds sway over my attention. This is the music that will be playing when my ship is crushed on the shoals of life.

88/100

Altar of Plagues are also mind-blowing in a live setting, as I found out here.

3 comments:

shanitawain said...

A good writing style and information is certainly useful. For all readers continue to write such excellent articles. Thank you.


limuzyna wynajem

SPna15 said...

I am somewhat hesitant about this EP. Perhaps hesitant isn't the right word... Let us say I had mixed feelings. It still has a lot of the atmosphere of White Tomb that I loved, but I'm not so sure about how much it's strayed from that album stylistically. More listens are what is required.

atanamar said...

@SPna15 I can completely see folks having mixed feelings about this EP coming after White Tomb. I'm all mixed up and backwards in that regard, but perhaps it's also a liberating point of view. There's certainly a stylistic difference; of that there's no doubt. I also just have weird preferences in black metal, I think.

Labels

2013 (1) 2014 (1) 2015 (5) 2016 (11) 2017 (5) 3 Inches of Blood (1) 7 Degrees Records (1) A Storm of Light (1) Abbath (2) Absu (1) Acephalix (1) Agalloch (1) Agrath (1) Altar of Plagues (4) ambient (1) Amon Amarth (4) Amorphis (1) Ancient Wound (1) Anhedonist (1) Animals as Leaders (1) Aosoth (1) Apostasy Records (1) Arsis (1) Assück (2) astrogrind (1) At The Gates (1) Atakke (2) Augury (1) Aural Music (1) Australia (1) Autopsy (1) Avantgarde Music (1) Backslider (1) Bandcamp (4) Baroness (5) Barren Earth (1) Batillus (2) Be'lakor (2) Beansidhe (2) Beaten To Death (3) Bindrune Recordings (3) Black Anvil (10) Black Cobra (1) Black Metal (63) Blender Theater (3) Blood Harvest (3) Blood Incantation (1) Blood Music (1) Bloody Panda (1) Blue Record (1) Blut aus Nord (2) Bolt Thrower (2) Bosse-de-Nage (1) Botanist (1) Bowery Ballroom (1) Buckshot Facelift (1) Burning World (1) Burst (4) Cake Shop (2) Candlelight (1) Cannibal Corpse (2) Captain Cleanoff (1) Carcariass (1) Carcass (3) Castevet (8) cats (1) Century Media (1) Chepang (1) Chronicles of Chaos (1) Chuck Schuldiner (1) Cloud Rat (2) Cobalt (2) Code666 (1) Coffinworm (1) Concussion (1) Coney Island High (2) Converge (1) Convulse (1) Convulsing (1) Creator-Destructor Records (1) Crom Dubh (1) Crucifist (1) crust (2) Curandera (2) Cynd (1) Cynic (1) Dååth (1) Dark Descent Records (6) Dark Tranquillity (1) Darkane (1) Darkthrone (2) Deafest (5) Death (2) Death Angel (1) death metal (64) Deathspell Omega (1) Debemur Morti (2) Decibel (2) Decrepit Birth (2) Defeatist (8) Demilich (1) Dephosphorus (1) Disappearer (1) Discordance Axis (1) diSEMBOWELMENT (1) Disma (3) Disrotted (1) Dissection (2) Don't Give a Fuck (1) doom (27) Down (2) Dream Theater (2) Drugs of Faith (1) Dunkelheit Produktionen (1) Duplicate Records (1) Dying Fetus (1) Dystrophy (1) Earache (4) Eight Bells (1) Eluveitie (1) Emperor (1) Enslaved (3) Entombed (2) Epoch (1) Europa (3) Explosions In The Sky (1) Falls of Rauros (1) Fen (3) FLAC (1) Flaming Tusk (4) Flourishing (6) folk (1) folk metal (2) From Exile (1) Fuck the Facts (5) funeral doom (5) Funeral Moth (2) Fuoco Fatuo (1) Gattaca (1) Gaza (1) GetOverHere (1) Gigan (1) Gilead Media (3) God Dethroned (2) Gojira (5) Google Music (1) Google music beta (1) Gorguts (3) Gorod (2) Gramercy Theater (2) Grand Ballroom (1) Grave Miasma (1) Graveyard Hill Records (1) Grind and Punishment (1) grindcore (30) Grindcore Karaoke (1) Guns N' Roses (1) Gustavo Santaolalla (1) Gwynbleidd (1) Gygax (1) Handshake Inc. (1) hardcore (8) Heaving Earth (2) heavy metal (2) Hells Headbangers (2) Hellthrasher Productions (2) High Water Media (1) Highline Ballroom (1) Hivelords (1) Holy Grail (1) Hooded Menace (2) Horrendous (3) Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (2) Howls of Ebb (1) Humanity Falls (2) Hybreed Chaos (1) I (1) I Abhor (1) Ill Omen (1) Imbroglio (2) Immolation (6) Immortal (4) Impiety (1) In Flames (2) Incantation (3) industrial (2) Infernal Stronghold (1) Infestus (1) Ingrowing (1) Inquisition (2) Interviews (1) Intronaut (2) Inverloch (1) Invertia (1) Invictus Productions (2) Ipsissimus (2) Irkallian Oracle (1) Iron Bonehead (1) Iron Bonehead Productions (1) Iron Maiden (4) Irving Plaza (4) Isis (1) Katatonia (3) Khthoniik Cerviiks (2) King Giant (1) Krallice (10) Kreator (4) Krypts (3) Kylesa (4) Lamb of God (2) Landmine Marathon (3) Last Rites (1) Laster (1) Latitudes (1) Lavadome productions (2) Lay Down Rotten (2) Legion (1) Listenable Records (1) Lit Lounge (1) Ludicra (4) Lychgate (1) Madison Square Garden (1) Magrudergrind (2) Man's Gin (1) Manipulator (1) Marduk (1) Marty Friedman (1) Martyrdöd (1) Maruta (1) Maryland Deathfest (2) Mas-Kina Recordings (2) Masonic Temple (1) Mastodon (6) Megadeth (1) melodic death metal (4) Melvins (2) Metal Bandcamp (6) Metallica (1) Mikael Åkerfeldt (1) Milwaukee Metalfest (1) Mind Mold (1) Mirovia (1) Misery's Omen (1) Mithras (2) Mitochondrion (1) Moksha (1) Mollusk (1) Mono (2) Moonsorrow (1) Morbus Chron (1) Mortician (1) Motörhead (1) Mournful Congregation (1) Music Hall of Williamsburgh (1) Mutant Supremacy (5) Mutiny Within (1) My Dying Bride (4) Nachtreich (2) Naisian (1) Napalm Death (5) Nasum (1) Necrophobic (1) Necrosemen (1) Necrowretch (1) neo-classical (1) Nephelium (1) Nerve Altar (2) Neuraxis (3) Neurisis (1) New Zealand (1) Nile (2) Nirvana (1) No Fashion Records (1) noise (3) Nokia Theater (1) Nordvis (2) Nuclear Blast (3) Nuclear War Now! (1) Nucleus (2) NWOBHM (2) Obscura (4) Obsequiae (2) Ogg Vorbis (1) Opeth (5) Order of Orias (1) Osmose Productions (1) Owen Hart (1) P.L.F. (1) Pact Ink Records (2) Pagan Records (1) Pallbearer (1) Pantera (1) Paroxsihzem (2) Peaceville (4) Pelican (6) Phantom Glue (1) Phil Anselmo (1) Pinnacle of Bedlam (1) pirate metal (1) Plebeian Grandstand (2) Poland (1) Polluted Inheritance (1) Portal (1) post-metal (2) post-rock (2) PRC music (1) Priapus (1) Prisoner of War (1) Profound Lore (9) prog (11) Prosthetic (2) Psychic Limb (3) Pulverised Records (1) Qrixkuor (2) Quorthon (1) Radiation Blackbody (1) random playlist (3) Red Album (1) reissue (1) Relapse (8) Revocation (5) Ritual Chamber (1) Robert Johnson (1) Sabre (1) Saint Vitus Bar (1) Sarcasm (1) Sarpanitum (1) Satan (1) Scion (1) Scrotum Jus Records (1) Selfmadegod Records (1) Sentient Ruin (1) Setentia (2) Seventh Rule (1) Severnaya (1) Shadow Kingdom Records (1) Shea Stadium (1) Siberian Hell Sounds (1) Skeletonwitch (6) Slough Feg (1) Sludge (17) Slugdge (1) Social Distortion (1) Soilwork (3) Soulseller Records (1) Southern Lord (3) Spectral Lore (2) speed metal (1) StarGazer (1) Streetwalker (1) Suffering Hour (1) Suffocation (5) Sulaco (1) Summer Slaughter (1) surf (1) Swallow the Sun (2) Swashbuckle (3) Swedish Death Metal (1) Swimming (1) Swords of Chaos (1) Sydney (1) Symphony X (1) Taake (1) technical death metal (7) Temple of Abandonment (1) Temple of Void (1) Thantifaxath (1) The Absence (1) The Acheron (3) The Ajna Offensive (1) The Binary Code (1) The Bowery Electric (2) The Chance (4) The Charleston (2) The Communion (1) The Faceless (4) The Fucking Champs (2) The Knitting Factory (3) The Path Less Traveled Records (7) The Rolling Stones (1) The Secret (2) The Studio at Webster Hall (5) Thou (1) thrash (10) Thrawsunblat (1) Throatruiner Records (1) Throne Records (1) Tiger Flowers (3) Toad's Place (1) Tombs (6) Triptykon (1) Union Pool (2) Unmen (1) Unspeakable Axe Records (1) Urfaust (1) Vancouver (1) Velnias (1) Vendetta Records (1) Vex (1) Via Nocturna (1) Vic records (1) viking (2) Vit (1) Vitriol Records (1) Vore (1) W.T.C Productions (1) Wadge (1) Wake (2) Warbringer (2) Weakling (3) Weapon (1) Weedeater (1) What We All Come To Need (1) Willowtip (4) Withered (5) WITTR (1) Woe (3) Wolves In The Throne Room (5) Woods of Ypres (4) Wormrot (9) Writhing Mass (1) Xaddax (1) Xantam (1) year-end list (2) Yellow Eyes (1) Yith (1) Zhrine (1) Zosimus (1)