Plague Bringer - As The Ghosts Collect, The Corpses Rest Review
Featuring some dude who worked with Modest Mouse and mixed by Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed fame, Plague Bringer's CD found its way to me with no small amount of fanfare. The promo sheet claims the group plays spastic, animalistic grindcore carnage with 'more hooks than a slaughter house'. Scott Hull? Grindcore? Sounds like a hot ticket.
My developing thoughts; the guitar tone is very discernable and warm, sitting nicely in the midst of excellent mixing and production. The riffing itself is quite strong, with lots of catchy riff changes, thrashy death/grind passages and a few odd hints of melody and dissonance. The guitars are matched by a two-pronged vocal attack - one sounding a tad like J.R. Hayes, the other having a deeper death metal bellow. The one thing that really sticks out however is the drums sound weak as piss.
There are some obvious influences from grindcore act Pig Destroyer as well more industrial metal groups like Godflesh. Like Pig Destroyer, the band is able to keep things interesting and varied by pooling a lot of extreme metal influences together, borrowing elements from thrash, death, grind, industrial, punk, black and cybergrind. However, the music overall has a very weighted plodding feel to it - rarely do the group step up the tempo to battering levels, instead preferring slower mid-paced passages. This is where the album suffers greatly; lack of tempo changes, and poor structuring that really just feels like riff after riff.
Get some f**king decent tempo changes happening - you know, like actually take a few steps up in aggression at the peak of a song instead of just going through mid-paced riff changes.
After reading the promo sheet a few times I want to make a few things abundantly clear:
This can not be considered grindcore in any sense of the word. I hear those blastbeat things are pretty hot in the grindcore scene right now. Plague Bringer's songs are f**king five minutes long, the tempo is painfully slow at times, the structure of the songs are far too slow and drawn out to have grind as a major stylistic influence, the "blast beats" are 20bpm - if anything this is closer to industrial tinged slower death metal. Don't call it grind. It doesn't deserve that label.
While often cited as a 'strength' of the band by reviewers and promoters alike, the drum machine sound pathetically weak and only holds the group back. The machine just tones down the brutality with feeble textures - it is certainly no match for the sounds produced by Genghis Tron, Agoraphobic, Mortician, F**k
I'm Dead or the like. Get a new f**king drum library man!
On top of that, the drum programming ain't anything f**king special. It just follows the riffs with some lame, uninventive fills thrown in. Yey. How groundbreaking! What a great band! There is no reason why they can get a drummer who actually knows how to use percussion to further the song instead of just throwing in generic beats and fills. Bland as hell.
The structuring of songs is f**king irritating. Same tempo. Same s***ty basic drum beats. Imagine Pig Destroyer's killer riff after killer riff type songwriting - but instead of crazy non-linear progressions, breakdowns, tempo changes and all the spastic crazy off tap seemingly random passages you get 'repeat riff A 8 times, repeat riff B 4 times, repeat chorus 6 times, repeat A 8 times' for five minutes - boring and lacklustre, and all at the same speed.
Then we come to the lyrics
they don't do anything for me. They're like the lyrics of J.R. Hayes, but they come across as very forced and corny - totally lacking in the passionate quasi-poetic obsessive style of Hayes.
Example: 'Rough like a dog's lick, the sick trick is still thick on my lips
you soothe me in times of pain, you slather love
numb and shaking, welcome your touch late in the night, finger these scabs, euphoric release'. Ugh. See, the tragic romance lyrics of Converge and Pig Destroyer aren't forced - they don't sound so f**king lame, so whiney. I get the feeling these guys kinda wish they were in the emo goth scene. I mean c'mon, compare that crap to this;
'Her bedroom is quiet but my heart screams, a horrifying sound like a hundred crippled horses lying crumpled on the ground begging for a rifle to come and put them down' (Cripped Horses, Pig Destroyer)
'I can swallow secrets and spit up blackmail saccharine words and plastic charm can dazzle for a short time I just want to help you in my own selfish way I will bow my head and kiss your hand wishing I could snap every finger.' (The Gentlemen, Pig Destroyer).
I realise I am being a picky son of a bitch, so let me spit out some praise: there are heaps of f**kin cool riff heres. Heaps of them. The production is awesome and the vocals are quite good too. Then again, the lyrics suck, the drum programming sucks and the drum sound sucks - and that stops me enjoying this release. Ratajczak can write riffs and scream, but cannot structure interesting songs or program decent drum tracks. Rosenthal can scream but not write lyrics.
CD Info and Links
Plague Bringer - As The Ghosts Collect, The Corpses Rest
Label:Seventh Rule Recordings
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