without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Winds of Plague has become one of the weakest and most unmemorable deathcore acts after releasing "Against the World" in 2011, and they really didn't do any better with the atrocity that was "Resistance" from 2013. However bad this band may be today, they were not always this terrible. "A Cold Day in Hell" is the band's debut full-length album released back in 2005, when deathcore was still a fairly new genre. Around this time, Job For a Cowboy had released their debut EP "Doom" and pretty much had taken the deathcore genre by storm, leaving Winds of Plague behind in the dust. Interestingly enough, these guys were one of the first bands to implement symphonic elements, specifically sounds similar to those in symphonic black metal. This album focuses less on these symphonic elements and more on a death metal/hardcore punk fusion. Make no mistake, however, there still are orchestral elements within the music. While this apparently is considered Winds of Plague's debut full-length, it really works more like a demo album. A lot of the ideas and songs would be recycled and rerecorded for their next album, "Decimate the Weak".
The guitars on this album are quite dirty and gritty. In terms of production, this album is definitely much more raw than anything the band would do in the future, which is why I believe it qualifies more as a demo than anything else. It's not the roughest, most raw album I've ever heard. Not even close, actually. But comparatively speaking, it's still a bit raw. The tone sounds more organic and less artificial than it would on subsequent releases, and I would much prefer to hear this type of tone on "Decimate the Weak" or "The Great Stone War". However, while I do enjoy the tone and atmosphere these guitars give off quite a bit, I must say the playing is a bit sloppy. This is one of those "always a catch" situations. Take the solo in "Anthems of Apocalypse" for example. On the band's next album "Decimate the Weak", this song is re-recorded, and the solo sounds much more well played, as well as being extremely memorable. It is still a noteworthy moment here, but it sounds sloppily executed. The breakdowns are placed well throughout the album. Mind you, this is still a deathcore album, so they are abundant and seem to be all over the place. The aforementioned guitar tone really supports these breakdowns quite well. The finest breakdown of them all resides within the final song, "Dead on the Dance Floor". A song fueled already by death metal blastbeats and chugging riffs, this breakdown contains a voicemail from one of the band members' ex-girlfriend as well as background music from the movie "The Terminator". This is one of the heaviest and darkest moments on the entire album and is quite unique.
In terms of vocals, this album definitely features Johnny's worst performance of all the albums. Although it's still a better album than the last two they put out, his vocals are at least slightly better on the following discs. In fact, Winds of Plague's major pitfall for me has always been the vocals. I just can't get into them and don't really like the way they sound. I'm pretty sure Johnny uses inhales for his death metal-styled vocals. Not that this is always a bad thing, as plenty of other bands do it. and do it quite well. But unfortunately that's not the case here. He ends up sounding lethargic, muffled, and just plain lazy. He does squeal periodically but we aren't treated to a total "bree-fest" here. Production quality may as well be a defining factor to the vocal sound here because this still is a fairly raw album. Regardless, I still believe this to be his worst performance and really am glad he improved on the following releases.
This is definitely my favorite WoP album drum-wise. Holy shit, man! The tone of that snare drum is very reminiscent to what a lot of the slam death metal bands use. This is especially noticeable during a blast beat. Skill-wise, then-drummer Jeff Tenney would improve a bit on the next record, but his lack of skill here actually enhances the experience. You can really feel the energy with this guy behind the kit and his ambition just flies all over the place here. Raw energy certainly plays a big role in this album as a whole, and Jeff really helps bring that to the front of the fight.
This album was indeed a solid start for this group of angry hardcore kids. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes what this band put out on "Decimate the Weak" and "The Great Stone War" and wants to hear where it all started. This is still a fairly early album for the deathcore genre and even then, it was fairly unique. Maybe these guys need to revisit this album and stop putting out boring piles of shit like they've been doing for the past four years.
In light of this review I'm honestly kind of afraid that somebody is going to take away my reviewing license, but despite all logical odds in the known universe I find myself here today, giving what is an all-in-all positive score to a Winds of Plague album. To be fair, this is their debut effort and is miles above "DEH-SUH-MAY-TAH EEEEEEEEEEK" and various other embarrassments they would be making in the future, but still - I'm defending Winds of Plague to some extent or another. I feel dirty.
Unlike later Winds of Plague albums, there isn't anything here which could really be classified as "offensive" - it's essentially just really early deathcore that tries to be "unique" by throwing a bunch of symphonics at everything. I'll say it right off the bat: the symphonic synths are absolutely useless. They're thin and unconvincing, add nothing to the music atmospherically and don't do anything more than occasionally make things slightly cheesier than usual. They're slathered over both the melodic death metal/metalcore riffs and the deathcore breakdowns, and do diddly-squat to increase the potency of either. Luckily they're easily quiet enough to ignore if one chooses to do so, but even that's kind of stupid because I can imagine Winds of Plague marketing this album in 2005 with some moronic tagline like "deathcore with ORCHESTRAL INFLUENCE" even though the synths contribute fuck-all to the sound one way or the other.
The main mode of riffing here is like a slightly more metal version of what Bullet for My Valentine were doing on their debut album: basically think melodic death metal with the first hints of influence from the modern kind of metalcore. The melodic death metal riffs are nothing new and aren't really my thing (the whole genre never has been), but they're far from the worst I've ever heard, at least. They keep me interested throughout the length of the album, and I suppose that's more than I can say for a lot of other earlier deathcore bands. There's a few pieces of technical noodling here, but it's used as flair and never threatens to overwhelm the songwriting or get completely out of hand. The breakdowns are hit-or-miss: some of them are the really boring, melodically solid, hardcore-based types of breakdowns, and then others are the awesome chunky, dissonant kind that would later get picked up by famous deathcore bands like Suicide Silence and Carnifex. The music isn't really really coherent in its songwriting, either; breakdowns are seemingly used out of a need for filler or song-lengtheners rather than a legitimate need for breakdowns in the song (this appears to have been a problem for a lot of early deathcore bands, though; take that however you will). Winds of Plague's vocals are pretty underwhelming at this point and actually kind of irritate me; most of the time they just sound like a weak, mid-pitched croaky shriek which just kind of exists in the music rather than leading it like it should.
I guess my biggest legitimate gripe about this is that the production absolutely sucks. Deathcore works best as a gritty, but clean and evenly mixed beast, and A Cold Day in Hell has an irritatingly sloppy mix. I think the biggest offender here is the vocal track, which sounds so ridiculously fuzzy and muffled compared to everything else that it sticks out like a sore thumb despite not actually being worth anyone's attention otherwise. But the entire mix is shit, really - the guitars are too quiet and sound like they were recorded in a garage, the drums are way too loud, and everything just bleeds over everything else in a gigantic clusterfuck of sound. Honestly, if I were the band at this point, I would've released maybe four songs of this and called it a demo to show off what I've got, then waited until I could enter a professional recording studio to release the full-length. I can tolerate noisy production, but deathcore is definitely not the place for it.
Okay, so it's not like I think this is the greatest thing ever or anything like that, but it's not all bad and I'd just barely prefer listening to it if I had a choice between this or silence. Based on the song titles and sampled dialogue, I'd hazard a guess that Winds of Plague were already tough guy douchebags at this point, but it doesn't really show in the music yet, which is good. If you like looking up early deathcore for historical purposes (because I highly doubt anybody, let alone those reading this, would actually enjoy this kind of crap), this is worth a look; if that's not the case, there are thousands of things I'd recommend subjecting to your ears other than this.
Okay so this album is a work of art. I'm going to start up and say that it's almost perfect if it weren't for the gay lyrics that are repetative and all about being angry and well, striaght edge... or brotherly. Although the lyrics may be typically hardcore, believe it or not, this album makes Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and alot of other symphonic black metal bands look like garbage, and completely cuts them down to size, pumelling with HEAVY gutterals [to back up the lyrics], masterful symphonies and crazy brutality that would make any black metallist be ashamed of doubting this band.
This album, "A Cold Day In Hell", is somewhat of a benchmark on hardcore. "Legends" by Abigail Williams is very much moreso metal than it is hardcore but this album... I would go as far as to say that the hardcore over powers the metal elements and it is still in good taste. For example, the introduction (A Cold Day In Hell) is a MASSIVE breakdown worthy of anyone's attention, along with a perfect symphonic keyboard riff over it, with some suitable drumming. This song perfectly fades into "Anthems of Apocalypse" that has CRAZY guitaring, a nice solo and brutal work on every other instrument, including the vocals.
I gave my friend a listen, who is pure death metal elitist, and without knowing who they were, got into the music totally. People who don't give this music a try will never know what they're missing. This was one of the first hardcore influenced bands I listened to, and it developed a tolerance in me, for breakdowns and all other elements that hardcore/metal fusion may behold. If a band can make a beakdown as beautiful as a solo or a melodic riff played by the likes of At The Gates or some other legends then I am rather eager to see what there is to come in the world of metal.
I promise that if you download this album (because it is out of print) then you will not be disappointed, no matter what genres of metal or hardcore you are into. This is HOW Winds of Plague managed to establish such a huge fanbase without being signed, WITH THEIR FUCKING MUSIC. It's beautiful, I lack words to describe it. Before you judge the dudes by the way they look and act, please give it a listen. The music will show you how different these men are, and what talents they possess.
A Cold Day In Hell
Anthem of Apocalypse
One Body Too Many
Full Chamber Roulette
(Brotherhood is the most hardcore track on the album, with guest vocals)