Sound — 10
I've always been a huge fan of all things bizarre in the music world and prior to this album, the last real album that struck big with me for its overall weirdness was probably Swans' "The Seer." That being said, Altar Of Plagues certainly takes the cake on strange with their newest album "Teethed Glory and Injury." Between its intensely malicious atmospheres and encompassing song structures that bleed with dark tribal drumming, pummeling bass, and powerful guitar riffs, this album is probably my favorite of the year so far. From start to finish, without even trying, the songs all flow so cohesively into the next, ultimately ending in an incredibly emotional finale. "Mills" sets the mood for the entire album, focusing on crafting a disturbing monument for the architecture of the rest of the songs to stand on. Eerie noises and outer-worldly ambience really sets the backdrop for the intro to "God Alone," which immediately attacks the listener with sharp snare hits and off-time guitar riffs. The vocals really entice and add to the despair of everything as the band fades away with everything but the heavy hitting drums and dark delayed background, quickly picking up into a incredibly groovy and addictive guitar riff that really comes together once the drums tighten with everything else. Songs like "Burnt Year" throw emphasis on how much the band really poured everything into what they are doing vocally as well with the vocalist (vocalists?) preforming the signature black metal screeches, but rather than be get thrown into the mix of many other metal bands that emotionlessly bark, growl, and whatnot, the full emotional pain of the vocalist is revealed as he comes to a near crying lament of someone close to him being killed or dying. "Twelve Was Ruin" ends in a sudden drop into a droning bassline and ambience, creating an almost terrifying beauty and a great breather to the pummeling riffs that were prior. "Reflection Pulse Remains" is probably my favorite song next to "God Alone" on the album and a great closer to album, ending in a very epic, post-rock build and collapse. The albums dark mood is forever present and is so well constructed, you can't help but play the whole album again on repeat, with each song being just as important as the rest.
Lyrics — 9
Unfortunately, there are no lyrics supplied in the packaging for the album, nor is there any lyrics yet I can find online to give examples, which is disappointing considering the lyrics for their previous albums (as I've researched) are incredibly poetic and well written. Because of that, I can only judge lyrics based on the vocal skills, in which the wide range of vocals throughout the album spans hauntingly pretty cleans that fit the music quite well when they are actually used, and death metal growls as well as black metal shrieks, which are the most used. Despite the fact that the clean vocals are more recorded by fading with the background ambiance, I feel if they were more prenounced, it wouldn't have the same feel, so the vocals were done right for the sake of the music. You feel every little sound of anger, pain, and sorrow the vocalists put their heart into.
Overall Impression — 9
This is definitely my favorite black metal album I've heard recently. If you are looking for a more traditional black metal sound, Altar Of Plagues create such a rich, new sound that you won't find it here. Although the traditional tremolo picking and black metal screeches are apparent, it's not first priority with these guys, but the music is. I would argue that this is one of the heaviest albums I've ever listened to, not in the sense of riffs (but trust me, they exist on this album), but in terms of emotional aspects and the utter dark nature of the album. While, at some times during the album, I have wondered the reason for certain recording choices (the absurd amount of bass driven towards the end of "God Alone" that almost overpowers everything), Altar Of Plagues from beginning to end, leave you feeling disturbed and intrigued as they pull you from your head and leave you in a pitch black room by your lonesome to re-evaluate your life. They push the limits of black metal by creating powerful atmospheres and do so without having to subject themselves to any generic sounds or using corpse paint. =)