WINDS OF PLAGUE had shown significant progress with their sophomore effort “The Great Stone War” as their ability to blend their Deathcore sound with the technicality and atmosphere of their Black Metal keys began to take shape. Their third album, “Against The World," however indicates that this potentially well-executed band can indeed take three steps back for every step forward.
“Against The World” is WINDS OF PLAGUE reverting back towards the sound they established on their debut. Its definitely more Deathcore oriented in its style with breakdowns galore, Hardcore influenced barking style vocals (check out their chant worthy intro to “Refined In The Fire”), and a focus on being as heavy as possible including up front bass work and drum blasts focused on double bass work. This isn’t the problem though. Neither are the Black Metal influenced keyboard melodies that grace the background. It’s how the band mixes it that fails to inspire or employ the idea to its full potential.
From the opening keys and child like chanting of “Raise The Dead” to a rather solid outing track “Strength To Dominate," this album is about as inconsistent in its focus as possible. Rarely do songs flow and blend styles like the band has shown they can do (although the title track might be the best example of how it can work on the album) and their random ‘experimentation’ with “Against The World” seemingly comes out of the blue. The lacking thought behind moving the band from its Deathcore sound and backing it with the keys and their (sometimes) technical prowess with melodies and riff layering is baffling. They’ve done it before, why can’t they do it again?
Not to mention, WINDS OF PLAGUE likes to play with, dare I say it, some Nu Metal qualities with this album. An almost Rap inspired presence rears its head on “California” – why it’s a single is beyond me – and “Drop The Match” with its vocal style of spitting beat like lyrical content. With the band’s already Hardcore influence guitar breakdown riff simplicity, the album starts to take on a Nu Metal vibe for portions of its play time.
The sheer bewilderment I felt while listening to “Against The World” still lingers after the album is done. The potential that the band was showing on the second album is all but missing on this third record and it makes for one of the biggest disappointments of the year. It still has some solid enough moments where one hears the WINDS OF PLAGUE that they could be, but its lacking focus as an album undermines the experience.
Songs to check out: “Against The World," “Strength To Dominate."
(Online September 12, 2011)