Release DetailsLABEL I Hate Records
RELEASED ON 3/31/2005
Thee Plague of Gentlemen
posted on 5/2005 By:
If you’ve been observing the doom metal underground for the past few years, you will undoubtedly have heard of Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, a name that has been bandied about by industry types and scene-savvy fans alike for some time now. Doom enthusiasts have salivated all over their demos, 7”s and last year’s stunning C.O.T.D. compilation, each subsequent recordings showcasing a burgeoning affinity for the depraved teachings of Celtic Frost and Winter, warping and weaving the doctrines of these forefathers into something altogether more menacing and leeringly lugubrious. Yet, all the dismal dreariness of their earlier material was excruciatingly difficult to digest on extended listens, plagued by the stigma of much of doom’s most uncompromising practitioners - a lack of dynamism. Primula Pestis, then, sees Belgium’s heaviest band REALLY coming into their own, projecting their jet black spite in more convincing fashion than ever before, exploring faster, thrashier, Dream Death territory, throbbing mid-paced passages as well as the funeral, treacle-thick trudges that has become their calling card.
“Greek Fire” bursts out the gate with a bludgeoning, slightly bluesy riff that recalls Reverend Bizarre and vintage Vitus, blaring and seething with boisterous ferocity before collapsing into a lethargic crawl for the verse. The tension escalates into a glorious, despondent-as-fuck burst of cathartic howls and sludgecore riffage, shifting into a bout of tribal, ritualistic drumming and hectic Neurosis-esque guitars at 02:21 before EXPLODING into an oppressive warcloud of High On Fire meets Celtic Frost fury, accentuated by screaming solos and Steve McMillan’s Tom G. Warrior with a hernia theatrics. WOW. WOW!!! When did TPOG start sounding like THIS?! "Your Love Is King (Of The Dead)" begins with a whiplash-inducing riff that is TOTAL Celtic Frost worship, each note caked in grime and putrid filth. Steve McMillan’s vocals are truly beauteous here, as they are throughout the record - totally anguished and sulphuric yet completely coherent and forceful…not totally unlike, as I mentioned before, a certain Thomas Gabriel Fischer.
Over the course of a 45 minute beatdown, TPOG make it PAINFULLY clear that they are no longer interested in playing as slowly as humanly possible, as long as humanly possible. The contrast that they present with their more mid tempo sections and flirtation with speedy, breakneck passages lends their oppressive doom moments THAT much more dynamic force. “The Ocean Has No Sides” is a choice example of the growth TPOG have made as musicians and most importantly, SONGWRITERS, opening with a bare, desolate, whispering section before hovering above To Mega Therion territory, the mounting speed dissolving into a lumbering, lysergic drone, then progressively gaining momentum and coalescing into perhaps the speediest, most violent passage on the record.
This isn’t to say that TPOG can’t write hypnotic sludge anthems with the best of them- “Pressure and Time” is a hymn for the Winter/Grief - worshipping sect, hateful, vile and stuffed to the seams with flesh-flaying, tooth-pulling bass and painfully heavy percussion. Meanwhile, “As Cold As They Come” sounds like Pentagram with a major attitude problem and after ingesting a whole host of bad sedatives, a grisly mangled mutt of tormented shrieks and unspeakably evil atmosphere, complete with a handful of subtle tempo changes to provide relief from the unrelenting drudgery and a rambunctious Southern Comfort-soaked Louisiana boogie to close the track.
Of further interest here, of course, is the reprise of an earlier demo track, “Mowtown Misfortune”, which unsurprisingly sounds more trad-school doom than any of the other offerings on the disc. Lurching, sloth-like rhythms and a definite Electric Wizard/early Cathedral feel guide this EXCELLENT number, a lesson in sublime Eurodoom that nods slightly to area mates like Heavy Lord and Moser. A little awkward when wedged between the crueler and more dynamically-minded tracks here, of course, but a keeper nonetheless. The production throughout this disc is absolute gold as far as this genre goes - the bass is LOUD and COMPLETELY audible, the bass drum has the impact of a sledgehammer to the skull, the cymbals are clean and musical, the twin guitars erect an impenetrable haze of dismal despair that envelopes you in suffocating claustrophobia. They have done an excellent job of achieving thickness without making the production TOO muddy or blatant, the mix oozes with a spontaneous, primal charm and never sounds cosmetic or overdone. While the songwriting isn’t COMPLETELY spotless here, there are moments during the disc where songs drag along for a minute more than they really should, TPOG show a willingness to experiment with tempos and styles that they never displayed on previous outings, and more often than not, the songs are IMMACULATELY crafted (“The Ocean Has No Sides”), stringing together a host of references without ever sounding contrived or derivative.
These fuckers have really, really delivered on the promise that industry insiders have always hinted at here. This is far and away better than anything this group of miscreants have stamped their name on to date, and at times the depth and sheer mindwarping HEAVINESS of this record is truly uncanny to behold, particularly for a band that is just now issuing their debut album. As with all releases that Ola and I Hate Records have unleashed upon an unsuspecting world thus far (AUTOPSY TORMENT!!!!), this is a MUST-BUY for all discerning heavy music aficionados, doom fans in particular. Purchase, purchase, purchase!
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