Altar of Plagues
White Tomb

You’ve got to give Chris Bruni and Profound Lore Records some credit – Krallice? Cobalt? Hammers of Misfortune? Portal? Alcest? Amesouers? Tell me that isn’t an elite label based on those releases alone. Well, after raising some eyebrows with the debut EP from this Irish black metal act, Profound Lore has raised the bar again with the debut full length album from Altar of Plagues, and those sporting a hemp clad boner for Wolves in the Throne Rooms’s latest (and deserving) opus, had better pay attention.

White Tomb is 2 parts (split into 4 actual songs), and 50 minutes of organic, ambient black metal played with a taught looseness with hints of shoegazer introspection. Where Wolves in the Throne Room imbue nature’s misty, craggy beauty and damp forests, Altar of Plagues, while still delivering an evocative grandeur and epic, haunting beauty, seems to be more grounded; Not industrial but rusty and brittle- like a barren, human-less landscape in the future after an epidemic infection has wiped out the human race, leaving concrete jungles rotting and deteriorating with foliage. White Tomb is mother-nature reclaiming her territory.

Still, with the same grasp on jangly, shimmering riffage and moments of lengthy introspection and vocal-less instrumentation, the black metal meets post rock analogy is fitting-much to the chagrin of some of you. The 13-minute “Earth i) As a Womb” delicate introduces the album and initially builds and ebbs with undulating patience before unleashing a restrained tremolo picked stanza of epic proportions then settling into a simply jaw dropping, shimmering mid paced section then revisiting the blast beat. As you’d expect, the transition to the 14-minute “Earth ii) As a Furnace” is seamless, balancing soft acoustics and experimental ambience (much more so with “Earth ii) As A Furnace) with muted harsh screams and cascading blast beats.

The 22 minutes of “Through The Collapse: i) Watchers Restrained ii) Gentian Truth” is split with i) The Watcher Restrained being a rangy, jagged, post rock gaited number with a gnarly, grizzly mid section (though the vocal shift is a bit grating). ii) The Gentian Truth” is the albums most melodic and introspective track as its mostly instrumental strumming and a beautiful, steady build that could be a Cult of Luna/Isis track.

While ultimately, Altar of Plagues and Wolves in the Throne room are very similar, Altar of Plagues are slightly less hypnotic and have more of a enigmatic shoegazer vibe to their blackened beauty, which may put off the spike clad corpse painted masses, but wont change the fact that White Tomb (like Black Cascade I Imagine) is going to be on a lot of year end lists.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 6th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Shane

    Well Thomas, you did it again. Great fucking review. Stop hogging all the good shit, would ya.

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    One of the privileges of kicking out 23 reviews a day I guess ;0

  3. Commented by: Shane

    Smart ass

  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    great review – you can tell when you love something because you get crazy descriptive. hunting this down next.

  5. Commented by: vugelnox

    this label is on a roll not unlike Earache from about 88 to 92 and Willowtip from around 03 to 05. Yet another winner!

  6. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    Great, great release.

  7. Commented by: bast

    You know that thing when: don´t know why at first I couldn´t get myself to like this, but after listening the great new album by Isis my perpective towards this one changed and I´m enjoying…

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