Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Winds of Plague - Decimate The Weak

I don't even know why I review metalcore and deathcore anymore. I'm probably never going to review Architects, so essentially anything else in metalcore is shadows and dust, signifying nothing except that Sturgeon's Law might finally be applicable to metal, but fuck it, there must be some bands out there who can do the genre right - As I Lay Dying's template defining, Between the Buried and Me's utter fucking lunacy, Devil Sold His Soul's damn-near-everything.

Deathcore, similarly, has some bands which actually stick by the very simple starting template and do it well, but they're all from the period where deathcore was only just starting, since every band made since consists almost entirely of creatively dead scene kids. You want a checklist of potentially good deathcore? Here we go. Did they form in 2006 or earlier? [  ] Do they routinely wear merch from "proper" death metal bands? [  ] Do they actually sound like they've been influenced by first-wave metalcore and death metal, as opposed to second-wave metalcore and other deathcore bands? [  ] Do they, god forbid, actually introduce an innovative element? [   ] And all of these boxes are ticked by Winds of Plague. Perhaps Decimate the Weak will interest me.

"Decimate" is one of those words which is very rarely used correctly, like "disinterested" (which means "unbiased" or "without vested interest") or "crescendo" (It's the BUILD UP PEOPLE, NOT THE CLIMAX ITSELF). It's like how people who want to seem more cultured than they are think that "star-crossed lovers" means something other than "utterly doomed, totally fucked-by-fate lovers". Basically everyone takes it to mean "Destroy", "maim" or "obliterate", but what it actually means - and I've only ever seen Doctor Who use it correctly - is "to destroy one tenth of something". This is ironic for me, because it was only during the first tenth of this album that I thought I might like it, because up to that point, it was actually pretty good. Forget deathcore, this is symphonic, epic metalcore. The prominent keyboards (handled MUCH better than Abigail Williams' keyboard sections) built a bombastic atmosphere counterbalanced by the midrange screams of...ugh...Johnny Plague. The guitars break from metalcore convention by actually having leads and solos. Take note metalcore kiddies; leads and solos are AWESOME. USE THEM. If you're not talented enough to do so, you're in the wrong game. The melodic work is great, with the instruments playing off of one another ease, working in perfectly locked harmony. And, my god, how refreshing is it to hear a metalcore band who doesn't sound exactly like At The Gates? The first proper song reaches the quarter mark, and the song softens, and then stops.

Then a pig-squeal adorned breakdown begins.

And we were doing so well.

If I remember correctly, when I first heard that bit I actually shouted "WHAT THE FUCK?" at my computer screen. Seriously, I've never heard such an out of place, unneeded breakdown EVER. I don't mind breakdowns, but I didn't want the song I liked to stop like that, let alone turn into the song it now was.

The rest of the album was soured for me. This band is superb when it's doing its power-metalcore thing, and its integration of keyboards into their sound is superb - and indeed, exactly how it should be done. It is, however, far too eager to jump at the opportunity to abandon that for the sake of doing what all their contemporaries are doing - dull breakdowns. Sometimes, and I have to stress sometimes, the keyboards save the breakdowns from utter monotony, which is a credit to how good they are, but they're the only thing doing anything interesting on this album.

That's not to say that the other elements are bad. The guitars are fantastic when they're not content to just chug, and have some superb riffs and leads in there. The opening riff of "Decimate the Weak" (the song) is almost Nile-esque. But they're dull! The drums are exemplary deathcore drumming, but that's part of the problem - they're an utterly standard example of deathcore drumming. They're dull! And the bass? I'm amazed they even have a bassist. I actually want to hear a remaster of this were the bass guitar is removed. I doubt anyone would ever be able to tell. I wish more people would have the guts Pig Destroyer do and just get rid of a bassist if you're not going to use one.

This is by no means terrible - I've heard worse deathcore. There are some REALLY good parts here, but their willingness to abandon those parts is just frustrating, and that frustration with them overshadows their good elements. Pick it up if you have the patience I don't and you could have a lot of fun with this album - but I can't do any more pig squeals and chugging.

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