Cloak of Altering - _Plague Beasts_
(Crucial Blast, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (4.5 out of 10)
It is simultaneously easy and difficult to believe that _Plague Beasts_ spills from the mind of Dutch deconstructionist Mories. Easy, because despite the label's insistence that Cloak of Altering is -more- recognizably black metal than his orchestral abominations as Gnaw Their Tongues, _Plague Beasts_ is just as densely noise-fucked, directionally challenged and brain-charring as GTT ever gets. Maybe the musical approach has shifted, but it's still Mories's ear making the decisions. Difficult, though, because Mories has been in the biz a long time, and GTT certainly maintains a (dare we say it) highbrow quality in its sweeping sonics, so the Casio stylings that wash over _Plague Beasts_ turn a potentially devastating musical vision into something that sounds jarringly novice.

There are no drums. Not to imply there's no percussion -- there's plenty rhythmic rattling over every hissy moment -- but the percussive element doesn't even sound like programmed drums. It comes off as some snippet of loud electro oomph that got computer-pasted one after another into a raucous, blasty run. I've used this technique myself to create a drum-like underpinning for some otherwise amorphous noise; so, yeah, great idea for the untried, resourceless amateur, but not a compelling result from an artist with a substantial underground reputation. Add to the pot the occasional 8-bit bleeps that splooge out of the mix and omnipresent faux-static buzz that wraps every sound in mock electronic distortion, and the overall impact of the album seems to be somewhat less than intended. It's even more of a mess on a CD player; the only way _Plague Beasts_ approaches being defensible is when all the skittery details are heard via headphones.

Interesting vocal elements and melodic synth runs do elevate certain parts of the music above mere dregs, but there's not enough here to suggest that repeated listens could have any enlightening effect on mind or body. But who the fuck am I? Try feeding _Plague Beasts_ into a pair of your faceholes by visiting Crucial Blast's Bandcamp page. Maybe you have more tolerance for laptop-core than I do. Or dust off an old Gnaw Their Tongues record and get back to hating yourself more than you hate the music drooling from your speakers.


(article published 23/4/2014)

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