02. God Alone
03. A Body Shrouded
04. Burnt Year
05. Twelve Was Ruin
06. A Remedy and a Fever
07. Scald Scar and Water
08. Found Oval and Final
09. Reflection Pulse Remains
2013 Profound Lore Records
Forget everything Altar of Plagues has done over the past few years, including White Tomb and Mammal. Those two albums have little to do with Teethed Glory & Injury. The lengthy black metal cuts that dominated their first two full-lengths are long gone; only one track goes over eight minutes. There's a connective pull that attracts these songs together, but each one is much more compact than on previous efforts. A heavy emphasis on industrial/ambience mingles with traditional black metal stylings, and it's a doozy to adjust to for longtime fans.
Some may blame a major line-up shift or label change as a reason for something as jarring as Teethed Glory & Injury. However, none of these are a factor. The same members are here; Profound Lore Records is still representing the band. So what has changed in the two years between Mammal and this album? Maybe it's the cross-pollination of ideas vocalist/guitarist James Kelly has expressed in his new electronic project WIFE. Maybe it's the band trying to distance itself from a sound that has become crowded. Maybe they have been building towards this moment since their inception in 2006.
Whatever caused the shift, this album will draw a decisive line amongst the band's fan base. It's borderline ingenious, with its incorporation of Godflesh-esque elements, though it also feels like a different band was involved. There's nothing wrong with trying to expand the inherent restrictions their sound, but this change seems very abrupt. Altar of Plagues doesn't ease into the departure from their recognizable sound, save for a unstable opening instrumental "Mills," and the first listen is the toughest one to get through.
However, it gets clearer that the band fits comfortably into this new role they've placed themselves in. Drummer Johnny King is not tied down to constant blast beating, electing to vary his playing to include hypnotic beats and a frenzy of fills (notably on "A Body Shrouded" and "Found, Oval and Final"). The straight-laced black metal breaks are sometimes missing outright from songs, as a more unsettling, gritty industrial-tinged style drives the momentum.
From vocals that, at times, have an eerie semblance to Mister Curse of A Forest Of Stars fame, to extended ambient sections driven by static humming, Teethed Glory & Injury is dynamically more unpredictable. Not even the longest tune, "A Remedy and a Fever," plays with the listener's expectations. The jumpy rhythms timidly build to a multi-pronged approach of electronic noise and savory riffs. There's a slim chance they could have pulled this off competently back in 2009.
Teethed Glory & Injury welcomes in the next era for Altar of Plagues, one where they strip away by-the-books black metal for something truly experimental. It feels like the band is testing the waters for a bigger statement soon, but this album will be enough to shake their current foundation. Will everybody be on board with this? Probably not. Those will couldn't get enough of their previous two records may be puzzled at Teethed Glory & Injury, though the band commits to this fresh development with no hesitations. It's a challenging but ambitious, new beginning for Altar of Plagues.
Bottom Line: A different incarnation of Altar of Plagues that drops the post-black metal of the last two albums for a more industrial/electronic feel.