02. God Alone
03. A Body Shrouded
04. Burnt Year
05. A Remedy And A Fever
06. Twelve Was Ruin
07. Scald Scar Of Water
08. Found, Oval And Final
09. Reflection Pulse Remains
Irish black metal trio Altar of Plagues have been putting out quality music for seven years now, with three EPs, a split with Year of No Light, and now their third full length album. With 2011’s album Mammal, they solidified their claim as one of the best black metal groups of today, using droning, cavernous riffs and throat-scraping rasping vocals, and it is also one of my favourite albums of all time.
So, Altar of Plagues were going to have to offer up something very special to top it. Enter Teethed Glory and Injury.
The new album from Altar of Plagues is a completely different affair from anything I have ever heard before. The amount of sounds heard on this album is quite astonishing; ranging from straight black metal the likes of which was seen on previous Altar of Plagues albums, to twisted avant-garde, to grinding and droning industrial-esque passages, and even one or two dreamy post-rock sections are thrown in for good measure. The machine-esque industrial swirls of the opening track giving away into the jagged and jarring “God Alone” perfectly illustrates the dynamic range this release has to offer; slipping into a dark reverie, then being violently jolted from that state in the very next minute.
With so many sonic ideas thrown into one album, it could be easy for a band to forget the most important part of what makes an album good; that being coherent songwriting and interesting song structure. Luckily, the band keeps that in mind and gives each song the space it need to progress without letting it become too long-winded, which is one complaint that their music has drawn in the past. In contrast to previous works, the songs on Teethed Glory And Injury are all quite short; only one track, the excellent “Twelve Was Ruin”, ventures past seven minutes in length. Despite this, the songs still flow together as if they were one long track. The atmosphere is consistent and the listener’s interest is kept throughout.
One of the album’s greatest strengths is the vocals. Altar of Plagues has two members that do vocals, which is ultimately used to great effect. There are tortured shrieks, sinister rasps, and even clean vocals. The drumming is thunderous and generally sparse, driving the music when it is asked to, and then backs off into something more thudding and ritualistic for other parts. The aforementioned song “Twelve Was Ruin” is probably the most diverse on the album in every aspect; the drumming, vocals, guitar, and overall mood each offer a large variety of styles, from slow brooding, to psychedelic, to dark and swirling, to scorching.
To call this a black metal album would do a great disservice to its sonic palate. Altar of Plagues have evolved far beyond the realms of pure black metal into something completely different entirely. The pure nihilistic aesthetic is kept as a base, but the experimentation ranges into industrial, sludge, post-metal, post rock, even ambient sounds. Each song has something different to offer, yet every song flows together perfectly in the context of the album. Many of the ideas are developed slowly, and given time to breathe, but not so much that they wither and die on the vine. With Teethed Glory and Injury, Altar of Plagues show that they are more than a one-trick pony and move into the realms of the truly great extreme metal bands.