Farewell Dearest Altar of Plagues, Hello Malthusian – A Tale of Irish-Balkan Union

It’s hard to write about a show when you’ve worked up such expectations of it that your head wants to explode.

No, wait, I’m doing this all in medias res. Let’s start from the beginning.

I was born. As to where my place of birth will be, I had no control over, so I ended up in this fucking mess we call The Balkans. If I were given a choice in the matter, I think maybe I would choose Ireland. Ah, yes, the land that gave us Jameson whiskey, detective McNulty, Guinness beer, cool folk music, best sounding English ever, and spectacularly breathtaking scenery like this   one   here   that is soul-mated with the music played by our beloved Primordial and, more recently, by bands like Altar of Plagues and Malthusian.

For a short moment in time, the Irish and the Balkans met: in concert, in a small town of Cakovec, to where I had to travel to be part of this event.

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If it weren’t for my dear friend Trooper, his car, and initiative, I probably never would’ve made it to the show and would angrily hate on everyone that attended by writing teen hate posts on Facebook.

So, it’s a couple of weeks before the show, arrangements are set, the crew is penned down for the car drive, work is crazy like hell, I’m having meeting after meeting and I hardly have time to breathe. A week before the show, I start to realize, I’m actually gonna see Altar of Plagues play. WTF? Didn’t they disband or something? So, I Last Rites them, and naturally, find all the info I need: yes, they disbanded, added insult to injury, and this is going to be their final, farewell tour. Excitement level: up a gazillion. Of course, now everything comes back to me. This is the same band we went ape shit over a few years back here at Metal Review/Last Rites when they came out with White Tomb, when they were on the highly respected Profound Lore roster, AND, it’s the same band I had on repeat in 2013 when they issued Teethed Glory & Injury. Now, it has been a while since I listened to the album, and with all the shit going on in my life, my mind tries to make me less crazy by arranging information in there in a very weird, funky way (this is for a longer, some-other-time-story, possibly with therapy).

So, I need to re-plug, chill and listen to Altar of Plagues again if I’m gonna explain this tickly feeling in my stomach. A spin of Teethed Glory on the player and a bike ride later, I’ve remembered everything. This is the album that swallowed me whole and this is the band that was one of those acts that emerged from a sea of new black metal bands as the one that “had it,” as the one that made you shut up and just be still in time while their music is playing. And holy shit… I’M GONNA SEE THIS BAND PLAY LIVE! ON THEIR FAREWELL TOUR!

It’s hard to write about a show when you’ve worked up such expectations of it that your head wants to explode. But, I’ll try my best…

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The road trip isn’t long, plus we have the cool company of beer to make it even shorter.

As we arrive, some of the gang from the car are familiar with the enviroment as they’ve already been to this small club called Prostor (The Place), which is run by a group of enthusiastic young people. For the rest of us, this is the first visit. Nothing much to see, really, it’s a very decent place, lot of work and love put into it, and it has a good vibe.

The first band starts playing, Croats by the name of Isra, and we collectively take a peek and an ear at the young fellows… Err, frankly, they’re a snoozefest. I don’t know guys, the post rock thing – I’m over it. (Unless your name is Red Sparowes).

While the majority of people are trying to ignore the band, I figure it’s time for a beer and some merch shopping. And boy the merch is shweet!

Some really pleasant dudes are selling merch and they let me try out the shirts, be all girly about how I look in this and that until finally I buy one and thank them for being so patient with me.

First band wrapped things up, and next up, it’s Malthusian. So, what’s their story? I’ve heard they don’t suck. Last Rites says they really don’t suck. Check. Friends who know their music say they’re pretty cool. Check. Finally, their bandcamp is a bag of Irish goodies. Ok then, let’s see what they’re made of. They get on the stage and…. hey, oh hey, lookit! Those are the merch guys! The merch guys are the band! Congratulations, Mire, you’ve won first prize for deduction, now ask them for a goddamn interview next time you buy a shirt from them.

The stories were true: they do not suck at all. They are warming the place up pretty good with solid, good-sounding (black/death) metal with lots of tasty riffs. They sound dirty and gritty, and not it the cute-band-next-door kinda way, but they have a uniqueness which will serve them well if they plan to make a name for themselves.

They give a strong performance with a well-rehearsed act and they really do seem like a hard-working band that is willing to go the extra mile in order to rise from the all bullshit bands floating around these days. I wish them luck as well as more ass-kicking shows.

The set was short and sweet – just enough to keep the antsy crowd interested and point it to the merch stand to buy their shirt this time.

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It’s time for the Altar to get out there and do their thing. I’m psyched as crap. (As much as crap can be psyched, of course.) Three dudes get on the stage, one of which is a drummer who was already there with Malthusian. Just three humble dudes that came here to play. And so they start.

I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to their music, but it’s kind of transcendent… in a way Wolves in the Throne Room are at their best moments, which is exactly what I was thinking while I was listening to the show. I thought that the last time I’ve felt this vibe and this level of feeling with the music was when I saw WitTR play back in 2009. And that’s saying a lot, since that was one of the best club-shows I’ve seen ever.

Although I like to put things in neat little drawers in my head, AoP resists that kind of categorization and I don’t mind, really. They fill other voids in my mind, those that really count and those that need filling in times when nothing else would do the trick.

They don’t talk to the crowd, and barely have a break between songs. This results in a show that is almost one continuous awesome song, one complex and wonderful riff that curves, bends, fills the room, straightens and eats up walls.

The material is mostly from Teethed Glory (“Mills,” “God Alone,” “Scald Scar of Water”…) and you are hearing no objection from me.

The vocals are pretty much identical to their recorded counterpart and the sound is top-notch. The stage is set-up in such a way that you can practically sit on it with the band and feel even more connected to their music.

The show is over in a blink of an eye. I literally look at the watch and can’t fucking believe they’ve been playing for almost an hour. Usually, when I’m at shows that I cover, I write down these little scribbles that are supposed to help me later when I’m writing a report. This is what I wrote during the AoP show:

“Music, it’s what picks us up when we’re at our lowest, it’s what saves us from this pit we’re trying to make sense out of.”

I guess… that means the show was good.

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That is all, dearest readers. Go visit Ireland and stay metal.

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P.S. A huge thank you to the best road trip, concert crew one could ask for.

Posted by Mirela Travar

Passionately want to do everything.

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