Friday, August 27, 2010

Winds of Plague - Decimate the Weak

Well, they ALMOST managed to not suck...

Let's get something out of the way really quickly. Yes, Winds of Plague's image is incredibly stupid. While I'm sure they weren't aiming for it, their metal aesthetic is so far off the mark that one really can't be blamed for being put off this band before even hearing a single note. Their hilariously bad music video for "The Impaler" sure as hell didn't help matters either. They look like (and probably are) a bunch of kids who were into hardcore that fell in love with Job For A Cowboy's infamous EP, Doom. They needed something to help them stand out in the flooding deathcore scene, so they chose to incorporate keyboards. To be completely honest with you, it worked very well, because I would have never been interested in hearing the band if it weren't for the symphonic prefix. But the bottom line is that merely doing something different isn't enough to legitimately garner genuine praise. It's been said several times before, but just because you're the first guy to train an elephant to piss in its own mouth, doesn't mean it's great purely because it's new. But here's the strange thing about Winds of Plague, they aren't really all that awful down at their core.

I'll give you a second to collect your socks that inevitably just flew off.

What I mean is that when they stick to trying melodic death metal, they're passable. Not great, but passable. Nobody in the band is a particularly strong songwriter, but the keyboard melodies actually seem to work over the generic chug riffing most of the time. While there aren't too many bands doing what they are doing here, it's still not very adventurous. There aren't too many strange riffs or exploratory melodies, but they do the job well enough to obscure the biggest problems with the album when they are in top form. For example, "Angels of Debauchery" has a churning middle section that focuses more on the atmosphere created by the keys, and they manage to give a somewhat soaring quality above the bland heaviness underneath. It manages to slow the song down despite frequent blast beating, giving it a somewhat mystical quality that the rest of the album sorely lacks.

Sadly, that's where the praise ends. The rest of Decimate the Weak is every bit as bad as the general opinion seems to reflect. I mentioned that nobody here is a very good songwriter, but the disjointed cut/paste style that most tracks feature is extremely irritating. It seems like these fellas enjoy deathcore, hardcore, melodeath, and symphonic metal, but they haven't the slightest clue how to actually blend them into a cohesive beast. Several songs will awkwardly jump from a generic melodeath riff into a cliche deathcore breakdown with absolutely no warning. The opening track, "Anthems of Apocalypse" is a perfect example. The song begins immediately after the pointless symphonic intro track with a typical metalcore/melodeath riff and a simple chord progression on the backing keys. The song follows that general template until suddenly stopping and turning into a hilariously brutal breakdown. I swear, you can hear the hardcore dancers in the back of your head start masturbating once it starts. The vocalist spurts a few ultra low, sounding like a deathcore parody, syncopated vocal lines before the song randomly switches back to where it was when it started. I sat stunned at the completely out of place breakdown upon first listen. "Maybe I just don't understand it" I thought to myself, as I was still early in my deathcore quest at the time and still didn't understand the thought process behind most of the decisions that seemed questionable to me. But before my thought was even finished, another asinine breakdown crashes through and stinks up the place. The hardcore "YOU WANNA SEE US FAIL?! NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!" yelling over the top was the icing on the cake. There was absolutely no way the band could redeem themselves after that insipid move. Yet, when the breakdown ended (as abruptly as it started, I should add), it was replaced by an adequate blasting section accompanied by the first riff I wouldn't describe as retarded. That's just the first song folks, and it never improves. Sometimes there's an unnecessary key only section and sometimes there's a big, dumb slamdown, but it never follows a logical flow. Winds of Plague is trying so hard to be against the grain and in support of throwing away conventions that they forgot to actually write a coherent song. I don't allow Opeth to do this shit so there's no way in hell that these tools get a free ride either.

Which leads me to my next point, this vocalist is fucking terrible. He has the common decency to not distort the shit out of his vocals like Suicide Silence, but there's no power behind any of his styles. He sounds like he just recently got into the music and just listened to a few similar bands in order to get the general idea down, as opposed to actually training his voice to growl with ferocity. Merely changing the way your voice sounds does not count as death metal vocals. He seems more rooted in hardcore and therefore has a voice that's incompatible with the melodic death metal that takes up a majority of the record. He only truly sounds like he belongs on a few choice spots, like near the end of the title track. Apart from being crappy and incompatible, he also spews some of the most retarded lyrics I've heard since Five Finger Death Punch. I'll concede that I don't know who the primary lyricist is, but nothing changes the fact that Jon Cook is the one whose mouth they are regurgitating from. I mean, for god sake, look at this choice excerpt from "Reloaded"

We've got the world in the palm of our hands.
Bustas fall down when we're barking commands.
Atlas ain't got shit on our steez.
Kick out the chair and get on your knees.

I really, really wish I was making that up. That reads like a mallcore parody, and yet here is this grown man making a complete fool of himself by yelling this drivel with honest conviction. Angsty teenagers write better than that, which is an absolutely pathetic line to be under. Sorry guys, but either ditch this fool or just give up, because despite the fact that he is so forgettable and easily blocked out when listening, he is the weakest link in a chain already made out of Twizzlers.

Decimate the Weak is bad, no two ways around it. I feel like they actually have some potential beneath the bad songwriting, lame image, and gimmick (ooh look, we have a chick in our band, here's a picture of her boobies, buy our albums please). If you've got tattoos covering both arms and use the word "fuck" like it's a punctuation mark, you are most likely the target demographic, but I can't even guarantee you'll like it considering some of my deathcore friends have complained about the sub par quality of the record. I guess if you enjoy the genre and don't mind a bit of experimentation, it's at least worth a listen. It's different, but far from being good. If they gave up on the breakdowns, hired a vocalist who actually carries a powerful set of lungs, and focused more on the light keys over fast heavy riffing, they could be okay. They flirt with that idea a few times here, but mostly tend to play simple melodies over simple chugging patterns, which frankly, takes about as much skill as being able to pick your nose without drawing blood.

RATING - 19%

No comments:

Post a Comment