Altar of Plagues, Mammal

Phil Freeman

By Phil Freeman

on 05.16.11 in Reviews
Irish black-metal trio’s meditative sonic journey

The second full-length album by this ambitious Irish black-metal trio is a meditative sonic journey designed with good speakers and a comfortable couch in mind. Sure, there are moments of apocalyptic fury, and drummer Johnny King can blast with the best, but Mammal is no one-dimensional, frostbitten assault. Its four long compositions launch outward, then coil in on themselves like Robert Smithson's famous earthworks sculpture Spiral Jetty. The songs ebb and flow, at times seeming to dissolve into near-ambient post-rock hums and small, subtle bursts of digital static before surging back again like a blood-soaked tide. The track titles ("Neptune is Dead," "Feather and Bone," "When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean," "All Life Converges to Some Center") reflect a philosophical approach that would seem to align AoP with Bone Awl or Wolves in the Throne Room, but they're painting on a broader canvas than either of those groups.