(Originally written for Molten Magazine but scrapped)
If something is truly creative, it’s meant to rattle cages and in the case of Teethed Glory and Injury, make you feel uneasy. Ireland’s Altar of Plagues are a band that have ventured outside of any and all comfort zones, and while still retaining a black metal flair in the past, couldn’t be called a black metal band anymore. Now with this third album, they’ve left any notion of comfort zones far off in the rear-view mirror.
Guitarist and band architect James Kelly piqued interests with an interview several months back stating Pig Destroyer and many electronic artists were the key influences for this record and black metal much less so. This couldn’t ring any more true.
The tracks are shorter, there are nine in total, and the band push the envelope on what intensity, savagery and barbarity can be with Teethed Glory and Injury.
Altar of Plagues have always had a heavy and vicious side to them but with 2011’s Mammal, they explored some airier realms, which worked to supreme effect. This album is much more succinct and terse and with the band infusing more ideas than ever before.
The harsh and sometimes discordant electronics that are at play on this album are the key to its multi-layered sound. A song like ‘Burnt Year’ is characterised by manic drums, painful and agonised vocals that are almost reminiscent of Wreck & Reference and all the while a hail of uncomfortable electronics sizzles under the surface. Teethed Glory and Injury is an album that has a threat coming from all angles.
‘Twelve Was Ruin’ explores droning elements with ceremonial clean vocals chanted alongside that are simply intoxicating meanwhile album closer ‘Reflection Pulse Remains’ is a daring end with pulsating tremolo guitars that actually sound quite subdued and hypnotic opposed to the usual blazing tremolo riffs of black metal, strangely conjuring an evocative, dramatic and outright stunning conclusion to an album that has dragged us through the dirt and stones and never let up for a moment’s grace.
Teethed Glory and Injury is nearly unrecognisable as Altar of Plagues. It’s a brave record but one that’s equally reckless; simply not caring for the repercussions of their actions, which is what makes it so bold in the first place.
Where Teethed Glory and Injury will take its place in history remains to be seen, but it will surely be 2013’s most divisive record. This is for certain, it will also be the most discussed album of the year, picked apart by advocates and critics equally, trying to wrap their heads around it and we may never fully comprehend it and that’s the beautiful part.