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Album Review

At first glance, a black metal album of anguished contemplations about death and inevitability that opens with a nearly 19-minute song would seem impenetrable at best, but on Mammal, the second full-length offering from Irish experimenters Altar of Plagues, the whole thing somehow works. In the way that all great black metal albums are, Mammal isn't alienating so much as it is isolating, making the album not only a collection of songs, but a space in which to ruminate carefully over them. By putting the listener into the appropriate headspace, Altar of Plagues are able to exert total control over the listening experience, taking listeners on a journey that, through all of the brittle production and icy, unforgiving atmosphere, is remarkably thoughtful, introspective, and visceral. This feeling really shines through in how surprisingly dynamic the record is. The songs don't just pummel listeners into submission with their intensity, but are instead more tidal, ebbing and flowing between feverish, blastbeat-laden outbursts and quieter, more expansive passages. Combined with the spaciousness of the production, this push-and-pull approach speaks to a certain inevitability, as if to say that no matter how hard they fight, the songs always have to slow down. As an album, Mammal asks a lot of the listener. It presents an uncomfortable space in which to consider an uncomfortable subject with an austerity that will dispel any notions of black metal being only concerned with the evil or the brutal. Altar of Plagues have created something that's challenging and haunting, and those who are willing to put in the time will find an album that's not just effective, but affective.

Customer Reviews

Great Album!

This album is very much for those who enjoy bands like Wolves in the Throne Room (and by bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, I mean Wolves in the Throne Room). These are very long and very atmospheric songs that go from slow and moody to fast and harsh.

This album is certainly not for those who like their songs 5 minutes or less, nor is it an album for those looking for immediate gratification and something you can rock out to in your car. Be prepared for extended passages of sparse and repetitious sounds in between the vicious and low-fi sounding metal sections.

There just isn't a lot of bands like this out there, and these guys are pushing into some fairly unexplored territory with what I consider to be some pretty excellent results. If you like your music atmospheric, harsh, and unforgiving then you will love this album.


This and white tomb are fantastic albums. Wish some of the songs were split up. Other than that no complaints

As per the other reviewer

Do not waste your $$$$ like I did, what a pile of garbage. I loved the last album and cannot express how disappointing this one is


Formed: 2006 in Cork, Ireland

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Blending the suffocating blasts of black metal with post-metal atmospherics, Altar of Plagues expand some already extreme genres into new territories. Based out of Cork, Ireland, the band strikes a fine balance between the two genres, adding quieter, more open moments to its songs to break up the smothering assaults of blastbeats and brittle guitars. The Irish quartet made its full-length debut in 2009 with White Tomb, released on Profound Lore. The following year the band signed to Candlelight Records...
Full Bio
Mammal, Altar of Plagues
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Customer Ratings