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After you go through a few dozen obscure post-thrash and raw black metal bands with subzero production and professionalism, you can imagine how pleasing it is to listen to something clean and professional for once. Against The Plagues is pretty much the epitome of clean and professional; their style of melodic black/death metal is almost note-perfect in its construction, and the incredibly brief two-year existence of this band reflects music worthy of those many years their senior. The band's debut self-released LP, 'The Architecture Of Oppression', is a very strong work from a promising young artistic entity who already has the necessary elements to make it big in the metal scene.
The music here leans markedly more towards the black side of equation than the death, though influences from the latter are clearly present. The general sound could be a combination of Limbonic Art and some of the more popular 'black' metal artists such as Dimmu Borgir or Cradle Of Filth (the former two in grandiosity and dramatic construction and the latter in some of the riffing styles, relax) with an additional dash of death metal ala Behemoth. The music is highly melodic, with a large keyboard presence (perhaps a bit too large at times; the keys at their most dramatic moments tend to overwhelm the guitars), with guitars generally providing a fairly simple rhythmic and melodic base for the keys to build upon, apart from the occasional stadium rock-derived solo. Actually, the best way to describe this band would be as a more purely black metal influenced form of Infernaeon, but actually genuinely good. Against The Plagues is able to avoid that band's shortcomings by actually having enough ideas per song and not filling the tracks with meaningless extra repetitions.
The general sound is modern and nicely frozen, with none of the melodies being cloying or silly gothic things. The production is crystal clear and each instrument is perfectly represented (though some of those sounds might be a bit ridiculous in and of themselves: try not to laugh at the NES keyboard sounds on 'War Against The Plagues'), and it lends itself to the music as a whole. The riffs are generally simple, but good at what they do: this isn't meant to be extremely complex music. The metal that Against The Plagues plays is a form with an undeniably wide appeal, and the wisdom to use that appeal to their artistic advantage. The rhythms are catchy, the vocal lines are very memorable, and overall, the level of craftsmanship is extremely high all around. The playing is impeccable, particularly in the realms of drums and vocals. The former are deft and precise, and the latter are varied and powerful.
I'm still amazed by just how young this band is, and the fact that this is a self-released debut with this level of professionalism. Already this band sounds like something that could come out of Century Media or Nuclear Blast (those aren't intended to be insults in this case), and chances are they'll only get stronger as they go on. Excellent music for all fans of black and death metal, as well as genres a deal softer than those; that's not to say that Against The Plagues is anywhere near kind and gentle; merely that they have the ability to reach far and wide with their music. Highly recommended.