Altar of Plagues- Mammal

They Say :- This album explores the concept of death, questioning it’s significance and purpose. Lyrically, it is extremely personal as it deals with some of my own personal experiences. This is the first time that we have taken such an approach. As a result, I think it’s delivery was far more intense than for previous recordings. This was particular the case for the vocal takes where, rather than recording to capture the ‘perfect’ take, we took time before recording to get into the right lyrical head space and then record one entirely honest vocal take. I think that the emotion is quickly lost when recording something over and over. During recording I find that tt can be very difficult trying to stay engaged with the intent of the music, especially considering how unnatural it a process recording is.
Much inspiration was drawn from the work of Emily Dickinson, whom in my opinion described death in way like no other before.  Musically, we have incorporated a range of new elements and also began utilising our own instruments made from bone, glass, wood and other items. We also utilised a number of field recordings, captured at various times and locations throughout this year.

We Say :- Ok, so where, exactly, does one start with this? If you were expecting great things from the second Altar of Plagues record, then fine but, really, honestly, were you expecting THIS? I don’t think anyone was expecting this….

Mammal, the second album from the Irish post-rock/black metal/progressive/extreme/ambient group (delete to your heart’s content, pigeon holers) have seen the band deliver an astonishing record, exceptional in both its ambition and delivery. It is spellbinding, hypnotic, claustrophobic, nauseous, dizzying, dazzling and utterly, utterly riveting.

The world the band inhabit is a cold, forbidding and unremittingly bleak one; Mammal is their honest, organic and human response. And what a response. Neptune is Dead contains some of the most brutal black metal I have heard in ages, married against lush soundscapes of ambient post-rock that wouldn’t be out of place on a Mogwai album. It’s a complex narrative, beguiling, eerie, horrifying and deeply disquieting, often all at the same time.

Feather and Bone, a stunning and stunningly effective piece of ambient black metal ups the ante and twists the angst; its twelve minutes of structured cacophony offers only momentary respite and break from the oppressive gloom. On When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean,  perhaps the most straightforward of the four tracks here, the band completely leave you completely astonished by inclusion of the extraordinary sound of an elderly woman singing in Gaelic (it’s a recording of an old Irish custom of “keening” over open graves, apparently). It’s evocative, provocative and a tremendously effective artistic flourish.

All Life Converges to Some Center, the closing chapter of this aural novel, is a spectacular demonstration of furious melancholy but – and it is a big “but”- despite the gloom, the darkness, the wretchedness, there is, I think, a glimmer, not necessarily of hope but of resistance and determination. It is perhaps the best one can expect after the horror and desperation of what the band have painted for us thus far.

Mammal is a magnificently intense album. It has singularity of vision to envy but its true power is in its ability to submerge and immerse the listener completely. It’s really easy to become complacent about music, its ubiquity, its obviousness, its derivativeness. Thankfully, there are times when you’re listening to music that you just have to stop in your tracks, shut your invariably runaway gob and marvel at the sheer bloody brilliance that you are being subjected to. This is one of those times.

Breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking.