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Plow - No Highness Below The Crown

No Highness Below The Crown
by Spyros Stasis at 15 July 2013, 3:50 PM

Danish Stoner / Sludge band PLOW, after having released a couple of EPs (their self titled debut EP came out in 2010, and one year later “Bicentennial Picnic” followed), decide that the time is right for them to put a proper full-length out there. To cut a long story short, they penned a deal with Mighty Music and their debut album “No Highness Below The Crown” will be out in August.

The album starts with a dreamlike vibe. Intro “Storm” makes the introductions with its more laid back melodies, trying to ease the transition into the core of “No Highness Below The Crown”. The track remains instrumental and eventually the band decides to give you a taste of what is really going to follow, with the more energetic riffs coming through and the drumming building a solid groove, you are left helpless, unable to do anything but start headbanging along to the track. And then the true storm breaks. “Big Deep” comes in with much more intensity; with the groove showing the way and the guitars unleashing leads in order to lift the whole track even further. And as if that was not enough, “Margareth” kicks in with a much more extreme sound and additional weight to it, with some of the riffs having a more modern vibe to them, some of which are influenced by the early works of MASTODON and BARONESS. The tribal drumming in the end of the song is an excellent addition.

And when you think that things cannot get any better one of the highlights of the album, “Bloody Temper”, comes in. Again with a MASTODON-ian aura and addictive riffs which work very well in parallel with the groove of the song to produce a coherent result. The track does not live up to the intensity of the previous two songs, but it is filled with hooks and great delivery of the vocal lines. The whole concept becomes even stranger when about three minutes in they use just the vocals and drums as the main instruments (the guitars are just accompanying the song, coloring its form with their melodies).

On the other hand if what you prefer to hear from PLOW is their more extreme side, do not worry. “Captain Fungus”, is a much more energetic track, with a destructive rhythm that is intoxicating to bear. Especially about a couple of minutes into the track the sound becomes absolutely massive. On the other hand, “Lord Von Gus” relies a bit more on the gradual development, exploiting the benefits of repetitive rhythms (in this case the drums) on top of which the guitars are allowed to experiment freely. The repetitive cycle is finally broken at some point with PLOW giving to the track all they got, making it probably the heaviest moment of the album.

The last two tracks of the album are also the most interesting ones. The almost eight minute long “Betula” is more laid back in the start, with a minimalistic use of drums. The track is being built up slowly with the heavy guitars distorting reality on their path. The full impact of the song occurs about a couple of minutes in, commencing an intriguing journey through the adventures of the PLOWman (an entity that comes to life through PLOW’s music). The last minute of the song is a testament to the ability of the band to craft immense sounds and come up with captivating leads. The deal with the closing track of the album, “Pendula”, which spans for over nine minutes, is quite different. The song has a much more trippy and psychedelic identity. It still offers the usual sludge explosions and the heavy guitars of course and it sets loose the Doom-ier (actually almost reaches the limits between Sludge and Drone) and most destructive self of PLOW, about five minutes in, to turn everything to utter ruin.

PLOW have shown their true nature with their debut full-length. “No Highness Below The Crown” is just a glimpse of what PLOW can do if they reach their full potential. This album is just a first step to something much greater.

3 Star Rating

1. Storm
2. Big Deep
3. Margareth
4. Bloody Temper
5. Captain Fungus
6. Lord Von Gus
7. Betula
8. Pendula
Rune – Vocals, Guitars
James – Guitar
Mads – Bass
Rasmus – Drums
Record Label: Mighty Music


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