Although most would probably best know Dutch avant-metal madman Mories for his notorious blackened industrial/orchestral doom outfit Gnaw Their Tongues, he's also been involved with a number of projects that one could describe as being rooted in a much more recognizable "black metal" sound. One of 'em is Cloak Of Altering, a project that Mories started in 2011 as a continuation of his earlier black metal band Ophiuchus. The previous Cloak Of Altering albums explored Mories's fascination with the early symphonic black metal of "In the Nightside Eclipse"-era Emperor and Arcturus's early efforts, as well as the more fiendish and fractured forms of industrial black metal as practiced by the likes of Dødheimsgard. Each new release has moved deeper into stranger and more mutated realms of electronically-damaged symphonic black metal, though, and with Cloak Of Altering's third album (and first for Crucial Blast) "Plague Beasts", Mories delivers a ferocious affront to black metal form and structure, combining his otherworldly strain of sweeping symphonic black metal with bursts of intense electronic chaos, waves of nebulous synthesizer and spastic rhythmic violence that, at times, feels more like something you'd hear off of a Planet Mu 12".
As with most of his other projects (Gnaw Their Tongues, Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, Seirom, etc.), this deforms aspects of black metal into something even more surreal, but where the likes of Gnaw Their Tongues feature heavy use of orchestral sounds, the seven songs on "Plague Beasts" showcase a much more pronounced use of synthesizers. The melodies that seethe and swarm throughout the album at times resemble some twisted nightmare version of prog rock keyboard freak-outs, or vintage 16-bit game soundtracks being fused to the gristle and graveyard stink of second wave black metal. As soon as opener "Plague Beasts" kicks in, the album begins it's pummeling assault of churning programmed drumming and nuclear rhythmic chaos, unleashing volleys of violent machinegun-like blastbeats and skull-crushing gabber kicks beneath a baleful swarm of frostbitten blackened riffs, spiteful howling vocals sinking into the underlying layers of orchestral murk. You can definitely pick up on Mories's signature use of horrific orchestral sounds, but those elements are submerged beneath the fuzz-enshrouded black metal riffs and those swirling elliptical synths, melting those epic symphonic black metal influences into a psychotic cyborg stew of washed-out trip-hop rhythms, garbled discordant tremolo riffs, bizarre gurgling vocals, and swells of stunning, almost shoegazey majesty that suddenly wash over the music, imbuing it for a moment with a luminous black glow of aching apocalyptic beauty. On other tracks like "White Inverted Void", the album shifts into glitch-damaged electro-black metal epics roiling with crazed synthesizer arpeggios and complex keyboard melodies, while "Ash666urA" lurches like some utterly malformed breakcore monstrosity, all slow motion lurch and spasm, discordant sour riffage and those guttural putrid vocals rolling into passages of strange twilight eeriness. There are blasts of hellish nightmare ambience woven into mutant blackened drum n' bass spasms ("Into Celestial Hell") and assaults of atmospheric black metal grandeur infested with splintered, ultra-violent junglist rhythms reminiscent of artists like Shitmat and Venetian Snares ("Altering Forever"). And on "Translucent Body Deformities" and "Chaos Magician Of The Abyss", lush layers of gleaming synthesizer and orchestral strings are draped over rabid mechanized blasts and mosquito-buzz guitars, forming into some strange fusion of early Nordic black metal fury and the baroque soundtrack work of Keith Emerson, the drums locking up into stuttering, broken rhythms and glitched-out pandemonium.
More than anything else from Mories, this stuff is closest in spirit to the malevolent necro-industrial and fractured drug-fueled machine-ecstasies of bands like Aborym, Blacklodge, Dodheimsgard, Mysticum, and Abigor. But as with anything that this guy is involved with, "Plague Beasts" seethes with a deliriously demonic atmosphere entirely its own. Comes in six-panel digipack packaging.
In addition, the first two hundred copies of "Plague Beasts" ordered directly from Crucial Blast will also come with a bonus twelve-page full-color art zine from Mories, featuring all new visual artwork from the Cloak Of Altering / Gnaw Their Tongues mastermind, an array of kosmische-tinged woodcut collage, eschatological schematics, surreal baphometic hallucinations and seraphic circuit board diagrams, all exclusive to this publication.