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By now, if you haven't heard of Winds of Plague, you're probably living under a rock. Winds of Plague is a deathcore band hailing from California. They are known for incorporating symphonic elements into their music thanks to their keyboard player, Alana Potocnik. They were once a band that I respected greatly, with the release of their previous albums: "A Cold Day in Hell", "Decimate the Weak", and "The Great Stone War". My relationship with deathcore as a whole is slightly more positive than most metal fans, as I enjoy a handful of deathcore bands from time to time, and Winds of Plague is/was one of those bands...but this release makes me view the band through different eyes. There is a lot going wrong on this album, and it is going to be hard not to completely rage and snap my laptop in half, but I shall give it a try. On with this review!
This album has one thing surely in common with WOP's previous studio efforts: the keyboards. The keyboards on this album are actually decent. They are not the culprit of the album's low rating, oh no, in fact, they are the reason the album is not sitting at a 0% for me. They are epic sounding, albeit a little cheesy at times. They do, however, feel out of place sometimes, hidden through the fog of the breakdowns and chug-chug riffing. The intro to the album, "Raise the Dead", is decent. It starts things off with a huge, epic sounding synth orchestration...but unfortunately the rest of the album doesn't follow through this way. The breakdown in this song is actually kinda cool, it makes the album feel like it's going to be "The Great Stone War, Pt. II" which I personally would have preferred, but alas, this is not the case...as the next track "One For the Butcher" ruins things. Anyway, the intro to "Built For War" features great synths, as does the pretty beautiful "Only Song We're Allowed to Play in Church Venues" (fuck, what a shitty title) and "Monsters", which starts off very melodic with a promising guitar solo...but this is also quickly ruined. So that's really all I can say about the synths. It's really more of a "there is some gold hidden in a sea of shit" type thing. The synths are pretty good most of the time, but the otherwise shitty musical abomination covers them up, distracting the listener.
Now onto the guitar! Ah yes, the guitar. Is this band TRYING to sound like Emmure? Because they're doing a great job at it. Playing simple two chord breakdowns, which they have done before except on this album, they take it to a new level of monotony. The guitar work on this album is painfully simple and boring. The thing that made WOP's guitars better in the band's previous albums, is that the two Nick's were able to create technically proficient, yet melodic riffs and solos. Now, there are two guitar solos on this album that must be noted for actually being decent. One would be in the song "Built For War", although it's very short. This, like with how keyboards started the song off good only to have it ruined in the end, does not last long enough, and ends up being left in the dust with a shitty hardcore style riff and a "fuck with the best and die like the rest" lyrical passage. The other guitar solo is in "Monsters" and it is right there in the intro with the keyboards, as previously mentioned earlier in the review. Those two solos are the only decent guitar parts on the whole album. The rest is stale and sounds rehashed. Just chug after chug after chug. Seriously, at times, it sounds like a completely different band. Now, I know there are people who would disagree with that, but they likely haven't actually taken the time to listen to all of WOP's other albums before listening to this one. Trust me, this album is quite different. It's not the WOP of old, and I find it hard to call myself a fan of this band anymore. One of the most embarrassing breakdowns on the entire album is in the song "Most Hated" when Johnny yells "Imma let that beat drop!". It's quite juvenile. The we have that chugging breakdown just chugging away. Now, this is followed shortly after by another guitar solo, but it is a boring guitar solo, and then again, soon after, we get the same "Imma let that beat drop!" bullshit followed by breakdowns laced in synths. It sounds bipolar, if you will. There are definitely no "Anthems of Apocalypse" like songs on this album, so don't come here looking for that. Although because it's WOP, you'd expect that and nothing less, just like I did.
Up next, the vocals, and lyrics. The vocals still for the most part sound like the old Johnny Plague which, quite honestly, I was never much of a fan of his vocals. Sure, they're okay for what they are, but I find him to rely too heavily on inhales and squeals. But here, he starts using a really shitty style of hardcore shouting in some places. And it's ridiculous. I think the worst lyrics on the whole album come with the song "California". This is THE WORST song WOP has ever recorded. It sounds like Limp Bizkit with some hardcore tendencies. The lyrics are very stupid. It is a wigger nu-metal anthem, that will probably appeal to fans of bands such as Emmure *shudders* and like I said before, Limp Bizkit, and possibly Attila. Really any band that lacks talent or originality but is able to capture the attention if a teenage scene kid who wants to be "cool" and "hardcore". "California" is a musical abortion, and that is being generous. The lyrics are typical tough guy "fuck with us, we fuck you up" rubbish. This is also, I believe, WOP's most profane album, every song featuring multiple uses of the word "fuck". Which really doesn't surprise me or anything, but it helps attribute to this tough guy, "gangsta" attitude the bands is going with on this album. Basically, if you're looking for lyrics up to par with Death's album "Symbolic", this is definitely not up your alley or anywhere near it.
As usual, the bass in this album is inaudible, so I'm sorry Mr. Andrew Glover, I'm not going to bash your bass playing, because I cannot hear it! The drums, however, can be heard, and they are nothing special at all. There are almost no blastbeats on this album. Actually, there are only about thirty seconds of blastbeating, spread throughout two songs: "Built For War" and "Monsters". And it's just your standard death metal style blastbeating. Still, those thirty seconds of drumming are the only seconds of drumming worth listening to on the entire album. The rest of the drumming follows the path laid out by the chug-chug guitar riffing.
I really did want to like this album, but it's very hard to. What with the stupid lyrics, mostly bad guitar work, and wigger imagery...it's over all a piss-poor album even longtime fans of this band are overlooking, and with good reason. Sorry Winds of Plague, I'm not feeling it on this one. Better luck next time!
The guitar solos in "Built For War" and "Monsters"
The thirty seconds of blastbeating spread throughout "Built For War" and "Monsters" (hm...these two tracks are pretty much the only songs worth listening to, as they have decent guitar solos AND drum work amongst the shit)
Vocals are generic
Lyrics are stupid
"California" is their worst song since "Reloaded" from "Decimate the Weak" and it is also their worst song ever to this date
Drumming is generic
Bass could be a little louder so I could at least hear it a little
Sounds too much like Emmure