Review: Altar of Plagues – ‘Teethed Glory and Injury’

When Altar of Plagues emerged with first full-length album ‘White Tomb’ back in 2009, they were lazily touted as either ‘Ireland’s answer to Wolves In The Throne Room’ or oversimplified as ‘post-black metal’. Even when the band landed with second masterpiece ‘Mammal’ in 2011, the comparisons to the US band were still drawn out and the post-black tag stuck. In reality, there was little justification to do that. Altar of Plagues might have worked from a black metal framework and thrived from the ugly adversity of the style to bring their themes of urban oppression to life, but there was something else going on: the band were subtly shifting into further experimental textures upon that immortal second record.

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Review: Àrsaidh – ‘Roots’

When Askival mastermind Andy Marshall announced that the Scottish band was no more in 2009, the news was received with equal bewilderment and sadness amongst fans. The one-man project released first album ‘Eternity’ earlier that year, showing great potential and especially catching the ear of black metal fans who simply prefer an escape into the beautiful wilderness of a dark British woodland space. A promising project ceased to exist…

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Review: Acolyte – ‘Alta’

Acolyte have been sitting on ‘Alta’ for a few years now, waiting for the right record deal to materialise so they can unleash their follow-up to excellent 2011 EP ‘Leng’. The Manchester band signed to Mordgrimm earlier in the year and have finally released this long-awaited debut album. The five-piece have made a gigantic, colossal beast of a record with mega lashings of groove and weighty yet smooth progressive transitions; from bouts of bouncing rocky verses with massive hooks to barbaric, blackened stampedes, Acolyte do it all with equal intelligence and charisma throughout ‘Alta’.

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Review: Rosaceae – ‘Transcending into the Cold’

Newcastle-based Rosaceae have offered a number of releases as free downloads over the last few years; one EP and three demos to be precise. Each time, the one-man black metal act – created by Liam McGeorge – has moved forward with some great musical developments and showed increasing potential. ‘Transcending Into The Cold’ is yet another free download from the talented North East musician, though this time it’s a much more substantial occasion because ‘Transcending Into The Cold’ is Rosaceae’s debut full-length album.

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Interview with Acolyte

Less than a year ago, Acolyte frontman Malekh spoke to me for an interview on SoundShock’s Breaking The Waves section. Since then, the progressive black metallers have signed to Mordgrimm and are set to release debut album ‘Alta’ (see review here) in May. Certainly, it’s an exciting time for the Manchester band. But that’s not it. Listening to ‘Alta’, it’s clear that 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year for British metal debuts too. I have a follow-up chat with both guitarist/composer Malekh and frontman JT to find out how life has changed since landing a record deal and completing an astonishing debut album.

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Review: Ov Hollowness – ‘The World Ends’

One-man project Ov Hollowness hits album number three with this release and whilst the Canadian goes on to make some well-assembled black metal with doom influences, he fails to produce anything wildly out of the ordinary. Still, ‘The World Ends’ certainly doesn’t make for bad listening if you like an atmospheric soaking of melancholic doom and you’ve either said or at least thought the phrase ‘black metal till I die’.

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Interview with Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ

Greek brothers Sakis and Themis Tolis initially founded Rotting Christ as Black Church in 1985. It was around that very time that the Second Wave of black metal was beginning to miraculously emerge over 2,000 miles north in Scandinavia, making the duo a most unlikely and unexpected musical force. Rotting Christ might be from warmer climates, but they have a rightful stake for their influence in evolving black metal sounds and have gained equal – if not more – notoriety than most black metal acts for their band title over the years, with certain Government authorities forcing them to cancel performances and other angered fundamentalists turning up to protest their shows. But all of that hasn’t and still isn’t getting them down. More than 25 years on from their formation, they have completed and released album number 11, with the stunning ‘Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy’. Just hours before its European release, I talked with frontman, guitarist and main composer Sakis Tolis about the new direction of the album, the financial turmoil in Greece and the controversy that has followed them across the globe.   

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