without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
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)