Although most known for his notorious blackened industrial / orchestral doom outfit Gnaw Their Tongues, Dutch avant-metal madman Mories is also involved in a number of projects rooted in a more recognizably “black metal” sound. One of ’em is Cloak of Altering, started in 2011 as a continuation the band Ophiuchus. Their previous albums explored 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 Dödheimsgard. Moving deeper into strange and more mutated realms, Cloak of Altering’s third full-length 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, violent rhythms.Twisted melodies seethe and swarm throughout the album, resembling a nightmare version of prog rock keyboard freak-outs, or vintage 16-bit game soundtracks fused to the gristle and graveyard stink of second-wave black metal. As with Mories’s other projects (Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, Seirom, etc.), Plague Beasts deforms traditional elements into something even more surreal, but where Gnaw Their Tongues features heavy use of orchestral sounds, Cloak of Altering submerges these elements beneath fuzz-enshrouded riffs and swirling elliptical synths, melting those symphonic influences into a psychotic cyborg stew of washed-out trip-hop rhythms, discordant tremolo riffs, bizarre gurgling vocals, and swells of stunning, almost shoegazey majesty that wash over the music, imbuing it for a moment with a luminous black glow of aching, apocalyptic beauty. Cloak of Altering is closest in spirit to the malevolent necro-industrial and fractured, drug-fueled machine-ecstasies of bands like Aborym, Blacklodge, Mysticum and Abigor. But like everything Mories produces, Plague Beasts seethes with a deliriously demonic atmosphere entirely its own.