The seasons are changing here in the great Northeast. The days are getting shorter, the sky is grey and the air is turning colder. It's perfect weather to listen to some death metal. And, with Halloween fast approaching, it is fitting to now review "Resistance", the latest release from California "deathcore" band Winds of Plague.
For those of you keeping score at home, "deathcore" as a genre is defined as the fusion of death-metal and hardcore, hence "deathcore". On a side note, the splintering of metal-genres is becoming laughable. I realize we can't group every band who uses a distorted guitar into the "heavy metal" category but where will it end? Does this happen in other genres? Let's see, there's rockabilly, psycho-rockabilly, Western swing rockabilly, Austrailian rockabilly... I think you get the point. Cornering a band like Winds of Plague into such a tiny category like "deathcore" just doesn't seem fair to the band or to the listeners. Ok, rant over.
Back to the Halloween thing - "Resistance" opens with a variation on the classic piano/pipe organ intro which leads the way into an ultra-heavy guitar and death-metal vocals. The song "Open the Gates" is a fitting way to introduce the rest of the album. It's spooky and made me feel like this is a perfect record to review before Halloween. Heck, if you played this CD at your front door you would scare the bejeezus out of those little kiddies hankering for some sweets. Trick or treat, indeed.
Winds of Plague slams through some serious metal for the next few tracks. "Say Hello To The Undertaker", "Sewer Mouth" and Left For Dead" are all "tear you to pieces" songs with thick guitars played by the very talented guitar duo of Nick Piunno and Nick Eash (you'll find a bit of euro-metal influence every now and then) and pounding drum beats from percussionist Brandon Galindo. Winds Of Plague also utilizes a keyboard player, Alana Potocnik, who brings elements of symphonic metal to the show but keyboards aren't a primary player in the composition of the songs. Bass player Andrew Glover brings additional "thickness" to the sound but tends to get drowned out in the mix.
I guess the thing that makes Winds of Plague "deathcore" is the drums. When you add a hardcore style drum break-down to your songs you are required to have a "core" attached to your genre. It's right here in the heavy metal handbook. I'm sorry, I'm going off on a tangent again.
Let's discuss the vocals for a moment. Winds of Plague's lead vocalist Jonathan "Johnny Plague" Cooke uses a low-register, death-metal style growl throughout the album with occasional forays into a more hard-core style shout. At times, I wondered if there were two vocalists, one who shouted and one who growled but it looks like it's all Johnny Plague. Admittedly, the death-metal growl is not my preferred form of vocalizing. For me, it works best on a limited basis. Too much and it begins to sound like Cookie Monster on a bender. This is an issue I had with some of the songs on "Resistance". It's just a personal preference. You may feel differently.
That being said, Winds of Plague found the perfect balance on track 7, "United Through Hatred". This, in my opinion, is the right blend of death-metal and hardcore. Johnny alternates between his two vocal styles throughout the song while being backed by a fantastic hardcore drum beat. Simply put, it's freakin' awesome. As soon as it was finished I immediately played it again, and then one more time for good measure. This song makes the album.
I don't know if it's because I really enjoyed "United Through Hatred" but the rest of the album then continued to impress. "Good Ol' Fashion Bloodbath" (I love that title), "No Man Is My Master" and "Snake Eyes" round out the album.
Overall, "Resistance" is a good record. It's an excellent example of symphonic-death-grind-metal-core at it's finest. Seriously, I enjoyed this album. At first, it left me a little unsure but it certainly ended with a flourish. If you like your death metal with a little hardcore twist then this is your album. Enjoy.