Winds Of Plague
Decimate The Weak
posted on 3/2008 By:
I understand that Winds of Plague have a pretty strong reputation amongst the deathcore/metalcore/whatever the shit you want to call it crowd. Nonetheless, I hadn’t heard them until very recently (mostly because the last album from this increasingly tired style that I actually enjoyed was All Shall Perish’s The Price of Existence). Decimate the Weak is, the band claims, their second full length album. I have a hard time swallowing this idea considering that they’ve re-recorded almost the entire first half of their debut, A Cold Day in Hell, on this release—Decimate the Weak is really more like a cross between a remastering and an EP than a proper album. At any rate, these predictably Southern Californian dudes have some industry big guns on their side. They’ve landed the inevitable Century Media deal, and who else but Tue Madsen was behind the production desk for this disc. Yet, despite their popularity, despite their big-time label support, despite the legendary producer, despite their own innate musical ability, Winds of Plague have released a stinker. If you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s why: these motherfuckers are a walking, talking, sweep-picking cliché.
Theoretically, the feature that sets Winds of Plague apart from their innumerable metalcore peers is their keyboard player—as of late, the chick from Abigail Williams (ladies: will you please start playing guitar, bass or drums in metal bands? There’s not actually a law relegating you to keyboards and vocals, no matter what the local bros may tell you). This distinction flops when you realize that tons of other metalcore acts feature keyboards—Bleeding Through come to mind, and even the Century Media blurb on Winds of Plague acknowledges that they sound kinda like Bleeding Through. But wait, there’s more! Evidently Winds of Plague draw influences from blackened death metal, allowing them to PAVE THEIR OWN PATH OF DESTRUCTION UNLIKE ANYONE HAS YET WITNESS (Century Media’s words and grammatical error, not mine).
Put simply, this is a crock. Winds of Plague may have the promotion, production and technical chops to succeed, but they still manage to suck every drop of life out of their own album by sticking relentlessly to metalcore/deathcore’s conventional tropes. Every song features at least one big ol’ single-chord breakdown, usually accompanied by ‘boom’ hits or even a freakin’ church bell on “Origins and Endings.” Every single guitar solo features at least one sweep arpeggio, and when there’s no guitar solo, they just squeeze a sweep in during a transition or something instead. Though vocalist Jon Cook (I refuse to call him Johnny Plague) sports a decent death growl, he just as often reverts to an unconvincing Jamey Jasta-style shout and—even worse—peppers the tracks with phony pre-planned mosh calls that invariably feature the word “motherfucker.” Decimate the Weak’s vaunted keyboards and black/death influences are relegated to supporting roles. The former mostly provide harmonic context while the latter crop up only rarely in Mediterranean melodies filched from Demigod B-sides (“The Impaler,” which is actually the best song on the album). By the time a hilariously out-of-place ‘southern’ riff popped up at the end of “Unbreakable,” I was thanking my lucky stars that Winds of Plague had the good sense to steer clear of clean vocals.
Decimate the Weak is superficially entertaining if you can forget that you’ve heard it a thousand different times under a thousand different names, but once the suspension of disbelief fails, so does this album. I know the “it’s repetitive” criticism can be applied to every metal subgenre and I’ve so acknowledged many times before, but Winds of Plague’s hackneyed songwriting and perfunctory ‘aggression’ are grating nonetheless. Frankly, there’s no reason that metalcore need be so repetitive. Metal and hardcore has endless potential for interesting and distinctive recombination (look at Cursed, Burnt by the Sun, Burst; fuck, look at Neurosis and Slayer). It’s time for everyone to let Unearth be Unearth and start using their brains when they write songs.
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