Review Summary: the soundtrack to a destroyed and desolate world, and one of the best metal albums of the year
6 of 7 thought this review was well written
In creating 'White Tomb', Irish 'post-black metallers' Altar Of Plagues have realised a vision that is stunningly telling in a current world that many would believe seemingly lies on the brink of apocalypse. Global warming, swine flu, pollution, terrorism, all of these things breed fear and anxiety in a culture that feeds on news and television. Simple things escalated to proportions that would seem ridiculous on the outside, yet oh so real for the people in the midst of it. For many, this generation is the beginning of the end – 'White Tomb' isn't the music for the end of the world, it isn't for the destruction of civilisation; it's the aftermath, the cold, desolate remains of mankind.
And as the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world, 'White Tomb' is about as cold and cruel as music comes. Similarities with genre contemporaries like Wolves In The Throne Room are unavoidable, but there is so much more to Altar Of Plagues music than just ambient black metal. 'White Tomb' is a gorgeously intricate beast, taking elements from actual post-rock, sludge and doom metal, then spreading all of it on top of a mostly depressing and atmospheric black metal backdrop – the result is truly extraordinary, resulting in one of the best metal albums of the year so far. The dynamics are stunning, even compared to the best of their contemporaries, the structure is beyond impressive, flowing and smooth, yet ever-changing, and the general sound is just right. There are no odd aspects despite the varied and wide range of influences, the music is always strong and memorable – trance inducing yet exciting and bombastic, its an album that successfully brings together many different things to create one amazingly solid entity that never stops moving or loses focus.
At near fifty minutes long, 'White Tomb' strives on atmosphere and feel, yet has so much to offer beyond just that. I could go on for an untold amount of time describing the most amazing parts of the album, like almost the entirety of the second song but especially the second half, where at one minute a destructive black-metal section contrasts sinister screams with low aggressive growls, before fading into dense one-chord black metal riffs that reminds instantly of Wolves In The Throne Room, except with a deeply atmospheric and beautiful post-rock arpeggio melody floating in the back ground. This all fades into a quiet post-rock movement that draws the listener into a slow discordant sludge metal piece that brings the song to a final conclusion. There's an untold amount of depth and creativity in the album, with a sense of variety and change that nonetheless keeps to the post-apocalyptic atmosphere without fail.
It's pointless trying to describe every brilliant moment in detail, as the album is so dense and varied that every listener will have his own personal highlights. Generally, the quality is superb, with only the odd minor hiccup which is only that maybe a section lasts a minute too long after picking up pace, but the fact is that the album is just so powerful and genuine that they make no difference to the final effect. 'White Tomb' is a terrifyingly touching album and one that relates to the anxiety of the world as we know it almost scarily well. If this is truly the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world, then it's going to be a beautifully humbling sight indeed.
Ahh damn, I was planning on reviewing this. Nevertheless, glad to see you around more. Great review, and great album. Fuck all for not checking this band out when I tried to whore them not too long ago.
Sounds exactly like a mix of Primordial and Wolves In The Throne Room.This Message Edited On 05.07.09
never quite got into Two Hunters, Diadem of 12 Stars was awesome though, and i'd put that up there with that album in terms of quality.
for me these guys are a lot more varied (soundwise) than wittr - there's a lot more post rock and metal feel, while wittr definitely have a stronger black metal focus even in the more ambient sections. both great bands though and its a credit that these guys are already being compared with them favourably.