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Desolate Plains – The Face of the Earth

Desolate Plains
The Face of the Earth
by Santiago Puyol at 08 August 2019, 9:33 PM

DESOLATE PLAINS is a Progressive Metal band that incorporates elements of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, recalling, at the same time, sounds and a sense of drama typical of traditional Metal. Although located in Athens, Greece, the talents that contribute to this project are of diverse origins, and the talent of each person involved can be appreciated in "The Face of the Earth".

Aliki Katriou's vocals are the central node of Desolate Plains, in a sense. The versatility she shows and the way she handles clean and harsh vocals is one of the band's strong points. Whether singing, screaming, whispering or in spoken word format, Aliki Katriou contributes to the experience that is each of the album's ten songs.

"The Movement of Fear" opens the album accurately, making the intentions and sound aesthetics of Desolate Plains clear. With synthesizers that provide a symphonic and theatrical vibe, thrash-y drumming and a powerful and catchy bass line, the band lands hard. Around the four-minute mark, there is a smooth tempo change and a melodramatic spoken word section.

Showing a more progressive side follows "A Final Though", vaguely recalling BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME or MR. BUNGLE in its experimental subtleties. Meanwhile "Empire" introduces folk influences into their melodies. Both songs demonstrate the technical complexity of the riffs provided by Lampros Potamianos. He also possesses a great sense of groove, something illustrated by the bassline introduced at minute 1:28 of "Empire".

Most of the songs in the album move between four and five minutes, with enough space to develop changing structures and unusual passages. In spite of this, the band is just as capable of handling itself below three minutes. "A Subtle Approach to Infinity" condenses several tempo changes, being one of the most aggressive and heavy songs on the record, while "Age of Old" evokes OPETH at their most Folk Rock side, accompanying acoustic melodies with delicate synth strings arrangements.

"Dead End" brings them closer to DREAM THEATER, sounding more traditionally progressive, especially in the guitar and synth tones choice. It has an epic breakdown with blast beats around three and a half minutes, and highlights Hugo Ribeiro's work behind the kit. The title track with plucked strings adding a dramatic touch is also one of the most progressive songs on the album.

Despite not following a "melting pot" logic that some bands that introduce experimental elements to their sound have, "The Face of the Earth" is an album with sound diversity, which makes its 40 minutes go by easily. Examples of perfectly executed eccentricities are the exotic sonorities on the vocal melody of "Across the River" or the cello, guitar and sax coda that closes "The Descendant" - one of the thrashiest songs here, very MEGADETH or SLAYER-sounding at times.

Closer "Absent" introduces Alternative Rock influences, sounding closer to PORCUPINE TREE or TOOL at times. The bluesy sound of the guitar and jazzy drumming bring OPETH back to mind, especially the Swedish quintet in "Pale Communion". It has one of the catchiest choruses on the album, showing the pop sensibilities lurking beneath all the experimentation and heaviness of the band.

With strong songwriting, outstanding vocal talent and instrumental skills, and an adequate production, Desolate Plains promises greater things here. "The Face of the Earth" simply stands as an excellent sample.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Movement of Fear
2. A Final Thought
3. Empire
4. A Subtle Approach to Infinity
5. Dead End
6. Across the River
7. Age of Old
8. The Face of the Earth
9. The Descendant
10. Absent
Lineup:
Aliki Katriou – Vocals
Lampros Potamianos – Guitars, Bass & Synthesizers
Hugo Ribeiro – Drums
Tobias Preuten – Backing Vocals
Konstantinos Kalaitzakis – Tenor Saxophone on "The Descendant"
Record Label: Molon Lave Records
     


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