|Black Metal, Death Metal, Groove Metal
July 2nd, 2013
Release length: 32:57
Right away, one of the gaping flaws to Plague becomes blatantly obvious. While the music sounds tight but pushed back in the mix, the vocals and audio clips are much louder, and a lot more raw than the music itself. This aspect sounds as if they’re being recorded with a microphone plugged directly into a computer. “The Dead Will Rise” finds some cold Black Metal riffs with a deeper distortion at work. Some additional keyboards gives it an icy touch, especially towards the chugging Death Metal-esque conclusion. However, this one starts with some obnoxiously loud spoken words altered to sound like a ghostly voice before the slightly hollow and tinny mixture of rasps and growls kick in. While they clash with the rich sounding instruments, their execution is solid enough to get the point across here, as well as on the rest of the album.
“Sifting Through Intestines” starts off hinting at a Folk Metal approach, but gives was to some odd Death Metal style riffs with a sharp buzzing that sounds like something taken off an original or Sega Genesis cartridge version of the first Mortal Kombat title. Other than an out of nowhere sudden change to the flow of the album, the song itself isn’t bad and gives more of an early Disney cartoon set in the cemetery vibe, the kind that wasn’t too afraid to be fun while also a bit racist at the blossoming day of color visuals. In fact it ends with a cartoonish yell similar to something from that company, or what one might find on an episode of Ren & Stimpy. “Necromantic” is a solid piece of haunting Black Metal riffs and harsher shouting, giving it a little more of a fed up touch in some spots. However, this track does have a high pitch noise, which comes off like feedback or an odd echo somewhere. This is closer to the end of the song. While it doesn’t dramatically impair the song, it’s loud enough to be a bit distracting. “Infected With the Plague” isn’t much to look at, finding a bass-heavy Mortician style to the riffs with clips of a hushed cackle and grunt against the chugging music. While interesting, it feels more like a bit of padding in the form of an interlude track.
While most of the album is a mixture of Black and Death Metal, “X Marks the Spot” marks a dramatic departure from those dominant genres, taking on more of a Meshuggah Groove Metal approach. This track utilizes some standard shouting that does stick out a little better through the raw recording process that was used. The small breakdown towards the end sounds great as well, only making you wish the volume were a little louder to make that impact, and what energy exists in the guitars, somewhat stronger. “Grotesque Degeneration” follows the same idea, though the guitar solo takes on more of a Progressive Rock approach that is transitioned in and out of quite well. And then there’s the Deathcore influenced “The Sickness Spreads.” The song itself has some strong technicality in the riffs, though the drums can be a bit thin at times. The breakdowns, especially towards the end, aren’t quite as powerful as “X Marks the Spot,” but thankfully don’t always showcase the typical one-chord attempted slam, having a little more substance to them while carrying a Whitechapel authority.
Plague is an interesting album in the depths of Northeast Pennsylvania’s Metal underground. While it isn’t bad, it definitely has its share of flaws. The music sounds great, though pushed a bit too far in the background, the vocals clash with their rawer approach, and the lack of consistency between styles can really break the flow of the recording. But, when you look at it piece by piece, nearly every song is a solid performance hindered only by the cosmetic limitations of what sounds like someone’s basement recording studio. If you want to support the underground, Mortuary is well worth taking a look at. Plague may not be the easiest thing to listen to, or even all that memorable, but what lies hidden under the rough is an album paying homage to the styles that Mutilator, the band’s sole member, clearly enjoys.
01. The Dead Will Rise
02. X Marks the Spot
04. Pre Mortem Embalment
05. The Sickness Spreads
07. Infected With the Virus
08. Sifting Through Intestines
09. Grotesque Degeneration
|Initial Pressing Score: 7/10