Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Crimson Footprints

Band: Plagues
Release: 'Death March' demo (2015) - Digital

The internet age has brought with it many a double-edged sword. Musically, it has allowed people with even the most rudimentary access to reveal their wares to the world. As some find success, others get lost amid the din of ever harsh online criticism, and often for good reason.

As a somewhat utilitarian genre, black metal was a ripe target due its early veneration of sub par equipment and steadfastly cut and dry methods. This has given rise to some of the most mediocre offerings black metal adherents have yet been exposed to; eye-catching cover art frequently belies mundane attempts to ape the genre's best and brightest.

A welcome disparity, Massachusetts three-piece Plagues sidestep the tiresome white noise of the internet's faux-underground denizens, presenting a treatment of black metal firmly rooted in the discipline of the second wave; mid-tempo blasted sections collide aptly with black 'n' roll, punk-ish movements while slower passages hint at layered, clever melodies.

Plagues' more dirge-laden elements turn out to be the most interesting, demonstrating a veritable talent for melodious subtleties which craft almost perciptible atmospheric veils. At other points, there exists a sense of the epic, as fist-pumping song fragments nod toward legendary Immortal's singular talent for transportation to fantasy-soaked black metal vistas.

However, this three-piece continously steer toward more bleak realms; the cover art for the demo emanating a foreboding aura reminiscent of that used for Krieg's classic album 'The Black House'. Song titles such as "Crush the Messiah", "Abyss" and the titular presentation make plain Plagues' thematic approach and overall disposition as a band.

There is plenty here (and across their other demos) to cause a few feet to tap, as well as inspiring downloads. Plagues surely know what they are doing, but added stylistic focus and more time spent wading in ethereal waters could see something akin to Mgła emerge over time, catapulting them from Bandcamp obscurity and onto the radars of people who know that USBM means more than Liturgy and Deafheaven.

Rating: 60%

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