Death. Insanity. Formless horrors that lurk the void between worlds. Cloak of Altering, the new project from Dutch avante-garde madman Mories (Gnaw Their Tongues) conjures ghastly, otherworldly visions of things that flee from the light. Psychotic, washed out hip-hop beats assail the listener, bathed in warbling reverberations of distortion, while manic shrieks and industrial, stutter-stop guitars reduce everything to mulch. Plague Beasts is a difficult, time consuming listen. It is a thick, swirling mass of hatred, pain and other, more esoteric emotions. It doesn’t like you very much. “You should not be here”, it screams, all the while drawing you in. Curiosity killed the cat.

Even so, there are moments of clarity, if not respite, on this journey. Sometimes the madness pulls back for a few precious moments, giving way to melody and something that might resemble a chorus. Possibly. Lingering under all this chaos are familiar sounds, but they’ve been so warped and altered that it’s almost impossible to get a grasp on them before you’re whisked away to the next section. One minute it’s black metal with 80’s hip-hop programmed drums, then it’s breakbeat via Cthulhu. There isn’t really anything else that sounds exactly like this album.

To someone who’s used to the aural madness of the most extreme examples of metal, this is an album you could listen to in one sitting without becoming overly fatigued. Those uninitiated in the outer limits of the genre, however, may want to tread carefully so as to keep everything from becoming a blur. There is almost unparalleled depth here, but it requires a serious commitment of active listening. These are dense, nigh impenetrable compositions, but when your ears finally adjust themselves to perceive the order in the chaos, it’s remarkable. There are hummable melodies here, and you shouldn’t be too surprised to find them stuck in your head at a later date.

All this subtle depth is great, but it comes at a slight cost. This is not an album for the casual listener. Unless you’re willing to devote yourself to repeated listens, you may want to steer clear. Some turn up their noses and scoff at music like this as being “intellectual” and “pretentious”, and while that may or may not be true, it’s certainly not the thing to listen to when you’re distracted or hitting the gym. Commitment brings rewards, however, and like a dark god, Plague Beasts rewards the faithful.

Cloak of Altering – Plague Beasts gets…



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