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Plague Years - Circle of Darkness

Plague Years
Circle of Darkness
by Rob Stone at 22 September 2020, 3:11 PM

Detroit based Thrash/Hardcore band PLAGUE YEARS are here and they want everyone to know it. There is no messing about or courting with this band. They are unapologetic in their approach and want nothing more than to play heavy music and do it well. The band promises to deliver their music like an “icepick to the face” and they give no indication other than to let the music speak for itself. The album artwork is a sight to behold. What appears to be man covered in barbed wire and his face constricted by rope. There are screaming mouths emerging from his chest with onlookers and ritualistic imagery all over the cover. It certainly sets the tone for what we are about to hear.

The opening track “Play the Victim” has an epic intro that sounds like it could be part of a horror soundtrack. Following this are crushing guitar tones and pounding drums. Something readily apparent is the presence of the bass in the mix which is all too rare in music especially considering its need for the body that it creates in this style. Transferring from this slow hardcore intro is a guitar wailing and mini guitar solo which introduces the roared vocals. The band shows their thrash influence with much of the song sounding very inspired by SLAYER.

Witness Hell” continues the old school thrash roots of the band, beginning with a tremolo picked riff going like lightning and the drums blasting through a skank beat consistently and powerfully. The vocals develop into an almost growl as they become more intense. The production also utilizes a lot of very interesting tricks, adding in small details that make certain elements of the vocal quality standout in the reverbs and delays. At the midway point of the album is “Circle of Darkness” which proves that this album won’t let up in its aggression and speed. At this point it also shows that the bands SLAYER influence is prominent in the root of their sound. Their execution of this is very impressive considering how long it took SLAYER to achieve what would now be called their signature sound and PLAGUE YEARS have managed to achieve it on their first full length release.

Incantation” begins with a heavily palm muted guitar rhythm being played under pounding tribal sounding drums. The song takes a moment to breathe while introducing the next riff, blasting into yet another incredibly quick skank beat. The bands ability to write great hooks is shown in the chorus of this track. “World in Blood” pulls in the reigns slightly with a more groove-oriented riff played over a standard metal beat. The down tuned guitars are slowed right down to playing diamond notes while the drummer pulls back even more, allowing the ride to carry much of the rhythm. The verse builds up and up until eventually the chorus introduces some incredibly well delivered melodic vocals with a great hook.

Overall, PLAGUE YEARS are doing what they aimed to do very well. Considering it’s their first release it’s a lot to live up to in a genre that many wouldn’t deem as relevant in 2020. They have brought a fresh energy to the style and they certainly have a lot more to offer that we will all be looking forward to hearing on their next release.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 7
Production: 8
Memorability: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Play the Victim
2. Witness Hell
3. Paradox of Death
4. Eternal Fire
5. Circle of Darkness
6. Evil One
7. Incantation
9. World in Blood
10. Urge to Kill
Rian Staber – Bass
Mike Jurysta – Drums
Eric Lauder – Guitars
Tim Englehardt – Vocals
Record Label: eOne Music


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