Cloak of Altering – Plague Beasts (Crucial Blast Records)

Monday, 19th May 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

The industrial banner is an odd and often difficult one to fly under. It takes a particular touch to work at all, let alone well, and a majority of the time it comes across as little more than a cacophony of machine sounds, electronic squeals, and much uncontrolled programmed drumming. When it works though, it’s usually a claustrophobic and alien experience. Fortunately, such is the latter case with this peculiar and extremely avant-garde release from The Netherlands. 37-minutes of hyper-nihilistic (and strangely necro) black metal/industrial/who the hell knows is an unrelenting experience that, while not easily recommended to most, is something easily suggested to those with the intestinal fortitude to handle it.

A literal marriage of black metal forms with industrial approaches, the songs play out similarly, hyper-intense percussion, rabid synthwork, buried guitars and vocals, and a myriad of digital terrors bursting from every corner. With opener “Plague Beasts,” it almost seems like the music will quickly fall into the trap listed above, an inherent cacophony of sounds, but it evens out as the song bears on and eventually gives way to much stronger pieces. Among those “Chaos Magician of the Abyss” perhaps stands out the most, this mid-album highpoint representing its origins almost beautifully, even when the shit hits the proverbial fan after the 4:20 mark. “Translucent Body Deformities” in particular features an absolutely haunting backend, much akin to space-bound evisceration.

The back-half of the album after “Chaos Magician…” sees the album transition to a stronger focus on the industrial flavors. Powernoise and a complete lack of emotional attachment takes hold in “Ash666ura” and especially “Into Celestial Hell” and by the time the closer wraps it up, you’re likely completely spent trying to contemplate the previous 40 minutes. As expected, the ride can be an overwhelming one, especially if the listener is unaccustomed to the stylistic devices frequented here. When they work though, they really work. Approach with caution, however; there’s a lot to soak in.

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