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I really shouldn't be here to slag off more deathcore, but this album has me interested. Why? Because it has achieved a rating of both 0% and 100%. I don't know why that's interesting, because I've mentioned before that opinions are bullshit, but it makes me want to find what it is that different people can find to love and hate about this album.
We'll start with the obvious reason for the 0% rating: this is deathcore. That pretty much guarantees that there'll be more dislikes than likes. Deathcore is an acquired taste (one which I don't have), and for one reason or another it just isn't a very likable genre. The fact that it is symphonic deathcore probably doesn't help, because symphonic stuff is viewed in a harsh light a lot of the time as well.
Another reason that it might merit getting 0%: There is a lot of stupid shit on here. Breakdowns-a-plenty, some needless periods of silence and some godawful lyrics, there's certainly some things on this record that I find to be of an irritating nature. I'd be cool with the lyrics if the vocals weren't so bad, and if the breakdowns were good then they'd be bearable too. God, if you're going to do them at least do them right, like Karkaos manage to. There are just too many of them done to a poor degree to warrant any real praise in that area.
But, while I fall on the side of the fence closer to 0% than 100%, there are some real quality moments here too. I can feel the hatred flowing out the readers, but I pretty much enjoyed the entirety of Anthems of Apocalypse. There were a few moments I didn't like, but the whole thing was very enjoyable. And there are flashes of that brilliance elsewhere too, the title track featuring some nice moments influenced by melodeath. For the most part it is weak, but there are moments that mean this album merits a score better than the album's average at the time of writing (33%).
That's generally a theme here: there are some neat melodic death metal influences that make some things more interesting. Anthems of Apocalypse is the best example of this (nearly an entire track of the stuff), but throughout the album they come back to spice things up. The use of keyboards is also quite good, and there are a lot of promising elements about this album. If only they'd ditch the deathcore and learn to stitch their music together in a way that fits properly, they'd actually get somewhere.
Going back to the vocals, they're bad. Not just regular, everyday bad, but really, really bad. Either angry shouts from the land of metalcore, the kind of deep growl that populate half of the brutal death metal scene (of which I'm not a fan), screams that you'd associate with screamo bands or something that borders becoming a pig squeal. Whatever way you look at them and whatever they're trying to do though, they suck. Lyrics about hating and killing everything (most commonly used words being 'fuck', 'fucking' and 'motherfucker') are pretty lame and put me off even more, but by this point I don't think the guy can get a worse score from me.
As a final note, I'd like to make a statement that this album was better than I expected it to be and that I'm almost sitting on the fence. Almost, but not quite there yet. But hey, it's better than the other stuff I heard from them and it has its moments, even if it is swimming in pig swill elsewhere.
I can admit it here and now...there was a time when I gave deathcore a serious try. Partially due to the influx of negative feedback the entire genre got as opposed to select bands (curiosity, ya see...), and equal parts due to being so tired of more traditional extreme metal and the ceasing of its upward evolutionary trend, I found myself diving headlong into a slew of different bands with an inkling of dire hope that something good can come from the endeavor. And it was...slightly rewarding. Two decent albums. Everything else was pretty damned bad and too derivative of one another, and finding the worst of the worst was actually a daunting task, even in a style so ultimately inadequate. But in the end, only one stood out as to be the ground beneath the bottom of the barrel...
The first time I gave "Decimate the Weak" a listen I thought it was a joke. A serious trolling on the deathcore/metal community through and through, because there's nothing serious about this. And to this day I still can't help but feel like the band played me for quite the fool. Already treading iffy territory by way of the cover art (where many of us caught our first glimpse of that fucked-up samurai dude that would become the group's personal Super Mario/Master Chief figurehead...), getting into the main nitty-gritty of the work is, believe it or not, even more vapid and awful than the cover could convey. At its core (heh...), and taking some of the more noticeable traits away, Winds of Plague is nothing more than your average deathcore unit pushing the latter part of their respective genre into greater focus and thereby wasting your time and mine. Guitars do nothing more than chug along and attempt some level of harmonic lead work and thrash-like grooves here and there, none of which really sound memorable or even good, the drums plod and platter along with rhythms and beats that aren't tight at all (certain parts of "The Impaler" and "Origins and Endings" almost sound like they were made up on the spot...), and the vocals just...yeeeeesh. I'll give credit to Johnny Plague for not shooting for your typical pig squeal shit (and having one of the worst stage names in recent history), but he still sounds so mundane, so half-assed and plain that I can't help but wonder if he just phoned it all in. That he just couldn't be bothered with putting any real level of energy behind it all. But then again, he does seem to mirror the lack of authenticity showcased by the rest of the band pretty much note for note, making that inability to stand out worth noting.
And then, the keyboards. Nothing short of transparent gimmickry, it nevertheless was the biggest focal point which would push the Plaguers out from the smoggy miasma of other chugging breakdowners and be the sole reason anyone would have ever given these idiots any sort of attention. Without the symphonic elements (many of which sounds pretty good in their own context) there would be truly nothing of substance here and they would just end up fading into the backdrop like the other I Declare Wars and As Blood Runs Blacks of the world. But the biggest problem is that combining the keys with the core-ish guitar work has all the workmanship of two same ends of magnets pushed together; being unable to fit together as such causes it all to work at odds with each other so noticeably that it almost sounds like two different bands playing at the same time. The only saving graces this album could have ever hoped to have were the clean and concise production (this ended up being one of the better sounding deathcore albums I've heard...) and the laughter the end result elicits. I can't help it...this was so terrible and poorly designed that I found it funny. This is still some kind of a joke to me, it just has to be! Johnny Plague, really? The bro-style hardcore chants? This was meant to be serious enough for Century Media to sign and publish? I just...I can't seem to wrap my head around all of it...
At the end of the day this was bad, real bad, but dammit if I didn't at least chuckle at it. I still think that, if it weren't for the keyboard lines (and, of course, the hot chicks busting them out) WoP wouldn't matter in the least, and even with the keys they still bite the big one. I'm honestly surprised they've lasted as long as they have, seeing as deathcore is more or less over with, but I say give it another year and they'll retire their piercings. They'll more or less have to...`
Innovation is a double-edged sword, it can greatly help or massively hinder a band that may actually have something going for them. In the case of the then emerging deathcore craze, it's extremely limited and uninspired formula screamed out for somebody to try something a bit different, hence the inevitable rise of a band like Winds Of Plague. In much the same way as Abigail Williams, their answer to the structural limitations of their adopted style is to dress it up with a lot of technical and atmospheric ornamentation, in much the same way the medieval architecture would complement a plain castle structure with legions of gargoyles. It's a commendable endeavor, but also one that comes with a few potential down-sides, the most obvious being a temptation to overdo it on the ornamentation end and come out with a sound that's a bit muddled and disjointed, and that's pretty well where Decimate The Weak finds itself.
The formula here is pretty easy to grab onto when dealing with the individual moving parts. A smattering of technical lead guitar work here and there to put hacks like Job For A Cowboy to shame, a healthy amount of admittedly cliche melodic death metal influences that come right out of the In Flames handbook, and a massive symphonic keyboard overlay that would put Cradle Of Filth to shame are the most auspicious of the unconventional additives that make this an atypical deathcore album. While these elements are definitely accomplished proficiently and there isn't any overt sloppiness to these songs, this band has a very big problem with limiting themselves to just a few ideas per song and end up coming off as highly schizophrenic, not all that differently from a number of overly technical death metal outfits actually. Likewise, the band's lyrical content and Pantera-influenced tough guy posturing, which they've inherited from mainline deathcore, clashes heavily with their epic tendencies in much the same way that a gang of Crips would if they'd been time-warped back to feudal Japan.
There are times when this album just delivers and any sucker for Gothenburg or early 2000s Finnish melodic death metal would be immediately drawn into the sonic fray, but this band just can't seem to keep things going for an entire song without stopping off in a random breakdown section with extremely bad hardcore posturing sprinkled on top. The best example of this is the mostly riveting number "Unbreakable", which could almost pass for an even more technical answer to Nile, but ends up stopping off in this lousy Pantera-like groove before closing out. Another is that of "The Impaler" which also lays on an impressive mixture of symphonic pomp and Mid-Eastern tinged death metal, but suffers badly in the lyrical and vocal department. Most of the remaining content on here has similar problems to greater degrees, but just about everything on here has a few moments of brilliance mixed in with lesser ideas and the occasional really bad one.
An album like this is more frustrating than it is bad, because every member of the band shows that they are capable of a lot more than what is being accomplished here. If a few things were jettisoned from the formula, this could pass for a decent American answer to modern death metal with a nice symphonic edge. It is fairly easy to see why fans of deathcore would love an album like this because for said style, it does a lot to push the element and likely brings in a lot of things that, while not terribly new to anyone familiar with bands like Nile, Necrophagist, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, manage to put a very different spin on a style that is generally defined as being in opposition to the epic character that those bands display. This is not the massive crapshoot that many have dubbed it, but the amount of unrealized potential here is enough to sink it, especially given how boastful it tends to come off lyrically.
If you don’t know who Winds of Plague are, I’ll help you. They’re an American band that plays symphonic deathcore, no matter how silly it may sound. Is it good? Not really. Most of the time, listening to this album feels like rummaging through garbage in hope of finding something that might still be worth something. I’m saying this because there are some decent sections scattered across the album. But on the whole, the songs and the album are far from good.
Keyboards are interesting, to say the least. In fact, the intro track is mostly based on keyboards. And you know what? This track happens to be the best here. Everything afterwards cannot compete with the intro. Sure, like I said, there are some decent sections. Decimate the Weak has some decent blast beats at the beginning. Anthems of Apocalypse, on the other hand, has a few decent guitar sections. There are other tolerable guitar sections scattered across the album and the same goes for drums and keyboards. Origin and Endings has some of those decent guitar sections. Plus, the first seconds of this track are somewhat interesting. But, like I said, it’s all surrounded by garbage. It all gives out an impression of extreme inconsistency.
Vocals, on the other hand, are consistently bad. The vocalist tries to be a hardcore, deathcore and melodic death metal vocalist, all at the same time, but fails miserably. Whatever type of vocals he uses, you can be sure he won't pull it off right. Plus, he barks out some of the dumbest lyrics I’ve heard. I still cannot forgive his “You wanna see us fail? Not today, motherfucker!” shout in Anthems of Apocalypse. Of course, there are many other examples of retarded lyrics (if you listen to Reloaded, you'll hear for yourself).
Breakdowns are the bane of this album, as is the case with many deathcore bands. One of the worst is found in Anthems of Apocalypse. What’s worse, it comes without warning. In the same song, another retarded breakdown is preceded by the aforementioned You wanna see us fail-crap. Breakdowns in other songs are not much better.
I've already mentioned inconsistency and I'll elaborate on it a bit. For every decent section there are at least two bad. Plus, Winds of Plague seem to have no idea if they want to play deathcore, melodic death metal, hardcore or maybe symphonic metal or if they want to merge it all. Well, they do manage to merge those genres, but the result is extremely messy and inconsistent. The only song that is consistently bad is Reloaded. This song is the only one that happens to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It sounds like a hardcore song through and throught, but a terrible one. I said there were some retarded lyrics here and here they are: "Tonight... the world is ours! What the fuck is up motherfuckers? This is what it's about, all that 2008 shit. We've got the world in the palm of our hands. Bustas fall down when we're barking commands. Atlas ain't got shit on our steez. Kick out the chair and get on your knees." I just refuse to comment on it any further.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend this album (and this band, for that matter) to anyone. If you’re looking for deathcore that doesn’t suck, look for some All Shall Perish and skip Winds of Plague. You can listen to this album if you happen to be morbidly curious, but even then it would be a waste of time.
Deathcore has never failed to amuse me, essentially the product of angst-ridden adolescents who, deciding metalcore wasn't edgy enough anymore, have taken the standards of extreme music to shit creek once again. Of course an entire genre can't suck, there can be exceptional bands, for metalcore I'll admit enjoying 7 Angels 7 Plagues and Reflux and even a bit of Kerouac, but so far, I haven't found a good deathcore band.
I heard a fair bit about Winds of Plague, the idea of symphonic deathcore sounded interesting at least, but my first encounter was the appalling Impaler video, go watch it, seriously, it's shit. This put me off a while but I decided to give WOP another chance.
What we have here is 2 bands really, a third tier melodeath act with keyboards and a sub-par slamming deathcore or whatever band, with some keyboards. These two are combined in a rather unconvincing fusion of riffs and ideas.
WOP's basic problem is that of every deathcore bands, a half-decent melodeath riff or lead suddenly stopped in its tracks by the excessive use of breakdowns. The whole thing is a horrible, disjointed mess. Pointless breakdowns, a vocalist who tries to cover several areas and fails at all of them, keyboards that add nothing and sound so out of place, more pointless breakdowns, wandering structures that never resolve, shitty breakdowns, seriously, if they cut out the -core breakdowns they could focus on becoming an average, but enjoyable melodeath band rather than a banal deathcore act wasting precious listening time from me.
The next problem is appalling vocals, the signature of deathcore, these shitty squeals ruin what good riffs and leads there sometimes are. That said the laughable "hard-guy" vocals are worse, shining with such gems like: "What the fuck is up motherfuckers? This is what it's about, all that 2008 shit. ". I know lyrics aren't everything, but they sure as hell make it harder to take this music seriously. The other musicians performing aren't too bad, they show promising talent but equally fall into the chugga-chug pitfall of so many -core bands, still they are fairly competent musicians.
The opening track is by far the "highlight" of the album, after a fairly shit "intro" we plunge into said averaged melodeath riffage with appalling vocals and everything feels a bit like Lamb of God meets Dimmu. Suddenly the song stops and the most inappropriate breakdown happens, it's actually painfully funny, this formula repeats, more half-arsed leads, more chug, more shit vocals, and then ANOTHER pointless, unfitting breakdown is tacked on. But this one is brilliant, because it's accompanied by the singer’s finest moment:
YOU WANT TO SEE US FAIL?
NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKAAAAA!!
Oh dear.. Can people actually be proud to be credited to creating this music?
In conclusion, there's nothing enjoyable here in this incohesive mess of chug, squeals and poor synths, but this is a band with a tiny promising glimmer of hope. A glimmer mired by the cesspit that is the deathcore genre. Avoid.
Let's get something out of the way really quickly. Yes, Winds of Plague's image is incredibly stupid. While I'm sure they weren't aiming for it, their metal aesthetic is so far off the mark that one really can't be blamed for being put off this band before even hearing a single note. Their hilariously bad music video for "The Impaler" sure as hell didn't help matters either. They look like (and probably are) a bunch of kids who were into hardcore that fell in love with Job For A Cowboy's infamous EP, Doom. They needed something to help them stand out in the flooding deathcore scene, so they chose to incorporate keyboards. To be completely honest with you, it worked very well, because I would have never been interested in hearing the band if it weren't for the symphonic prefix. But the bottom line is that merely doing something different isn't enough to legitimately garner genuine praise. It's been said several times before, but just because you're the first guy to train an elephant to piss in its own mouth, doesn't mean it's great purely because it's new. But here's the strange thing about Winds of Plague, they aren't really all that awful down at their core.
I'll give you a second to collect your socks that inevitably just flew off.
What I mean is that when they stick to trying melodic death metal, they're passable. Not great, but passable. Nobody in the band is a particularly strong songwriter, but the keyboard melodies actually seem to work over the generic chug riffing most of the time. While there aren't too many bands doing what they are doing here, it's still not very adventurous. There aren't too many strange riffs or exploratory melodies, but they do the job well enough to obscure the biggest problems with the album when they are in top form. For example, "Angels of Debauchery" has a churning middle section that focuses more on the atmosphere created by the keys, and they manage to give a somewhat soaring quality above the bland heaviness underneath. It manages to slow the song down despite frequent blast beating, giving it a somewhat mystical quality that the rest of the album sorely lacks.
Sadly, that's where the praise ends. The rest of Decimate the Weak is every bit as bad as the general opinion seems to reflect. I mentioned that nobody here is a very good songwriter, but the disjointed cut/paste style that most tracks feature is extremely irritating. It seems like these fellas enjoy deathcore, hardcore, melodeath, and symphonic metal, but they haven't the slightest clue how to actually blend them into a cohesive beast. Several songs will awkwardly jump from a generic melodeath riff into a cliche deathcore breakdown with absolutely no warning. The opening track, "Anthems of Apocalypse" is a perfect example. The song begins immediately after the pointless symphonic intro track with a typical metalcore/melodeath riff and a simple chord progression on the backing keys. The song follows that general template until suddenly stopping and turning into a hilariously brutal breakdown. I swear, you can hear the hardcore dancers in the back of your head start masturbating once it starts. The vocalist spurts a few ultra low, sounding like a deathcore parody, syncopated vocal lines before the song randomly switches back to where it was when it started. I sat stunned at the completely out of place breakdown upon first listen. "Maybe I just don't understand it" I thought to myself, as I was still early in my deathcore quest at the time and still didn't understand the thought process behind most of the decisions that seemed questionable to me. But before my thought was even finished, another asinine breakdown crashes through and stinks up the place. The hardcore "YOU WANNA SEE US FAIL?! NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!" yelling over the top was the icing on the cake. There was absolutely no way the band could redeem themselves after that insipid move. Yet, when the breakdown ended (as abruptly as it started, I should add), it was replaced by an adequate blasting section accompanied by the first riff I wouldn't describe as retarded. That's just the first song folks, and it never improves. Sometimes there's an unnecessary key only section and sometimes there's a big, dumb slamdown, but it never follows a logical flow. Winds of Plague is trying so hard to be against the grain and in support of throwing away conventions that they forgot to actually write a coherent song. I don't allow Opeth to do this shit so there's no way in hell that these tools get a free ride either.
Which leads me to my next point, this vocalist is fucking terrible. He has the common decency to not distort the shit out of his vocals like Suicide Silence, but there's no power behind any of his styles. He sounds like he just recently got into the music and just listened to a few similar bands in order to get the general idea down, as opposed to actually training his voice to growl with ferocity. Merely changing the way your voice sounds does not count as death metal vocals. He seems more rooted in hardcore and therefore has a voice that's incompatible with the melodic death metal that takes up a majority of the record. He only truly sounds like he belongs on a few choice spots, like near the end of the title track. Apart from being crappy and incompatible, he also spews some of the most retarded lyrics I've heard since Five Finger Death Punch. I'll concede that I don't know who the primary lyricist is, but nothing changes the fact that Jon Cook is the one whose mouth they are regurgitating from. I mean, for god sake, look at this choice excerpt from "Reloaded"
We've got the world in the palm of our hands.
Bustas fall down when we're barking commands.
Atlas ain't got shit on our steez.
Kick out the chair and get on your knees.
I really, really wish I was making that up. That reads like a mallcore parody, and yet here is this grown man making a complete fool of himself by yelling this drivel with honest conviction. Angsty teenagers write better than that, which is an absolutely pathetic line to be under. Sorry guys, but either ditch this fool or just give up, because despite the fact that he is so forgettable and easily blocked out when listening, he is the weakest link in a chain already made out of Twizzlers.
Decimate the Weak is bad, no two ways around it. I feel like they actually have some potential beneath the bad songwriting, lame image, and gimmick (ooh look, we have a chick in our band, here's a picture of her boobies, buy our albums please). If you've got tattoos covering both arms and use the word "fuck" like it's a punctuation mark, you are most likely the target demographic, but I can't even guarantee you'll like it considering some of my deathcore friends have complained about the sub par quality of the record. I guess if you enjoy the genre and don't mind a bit of experimentation, it's at least worth a listen. It's different, but far from being good. If they gave up on the breakdowns, hired a vocalist who actually carries a powerful set of lungs, and focused more on the light keys over fast heavy riffing, they could be okay. They flirt with that idea a few times here, but mostly tend to play simple melodies over simple chugging patterns, which frankly, takes about as much skill as being able to pick your nose without drawing blood.
One could be forgiven by writing off Winds of Plague as another shitty deathcore band with a gimmick, what with their criminal overuse of breakdowns, juvenile lyrics, rap/nü metal tendencies, and stupid, stupid, video for “The Impaler.” Most people wouldn’t listen past the deathcore label and that’s a shame. With Victory Records now jumping on this deathcore thing, I think we can officially call it oversaturated. Deathcore on its own volition isn’t bad, but for every Suicide Silence, there’s about 20 Carnifexes.
Winds of Plague aren’t as bad as the latest Victory signing though, but no one could tell with how much they get trashed in forums and at concerts. Not their own concerts, mind you, but when I was at the Cannibal Corpse in Tulsa someone said that their music makes them wanna puke a river and “drown those faggots in it.” This was the general consensus, but when I asked why no one had a good answer other then “faggots.”
They are probably just focusing on the negative like I’m about to do now (sorry Kyle). I said criminal overuse of breakdowns, and that’s true. I’m not a big fan of breakdowns. They almost always seem forced and are a cheap song lengthening scheme. When a band like Suicide Silence or even Hatebreed does it, it seems natural and flows well, but these guys fucking start off with breakdowns which fails to give the song a necessary momentum. Plus the term “breakdown” is just stupid to me, what naming a musical term after what happens when a car engine starts belching out smoke and flames.
Second is the lyrics, which also bleed in to the retarded rap stuff. I usually never pay attention to lyrics usually because in my line of listening it’s gonna be the same shit that Cannibal Corpse or Deicide have raped to death with their pus spewing horned cocks of Satan. These guys, though, use the word fuck like most people use vowels. And in the title track they repeat the phrase “I am sent from hell” ad naseum.
(Speaking of the title track, I wanna clarify something that has sparked something in my community. The female keyboardist does not sing on this track, it’s the dude from some band called Sworn Enemy. There wasn’t even a chick in the band when it was recorded. A dude was the keyboardist for recording. WELL, IT WAS BOTHERING ME!!!)
The opening of “Reloaded” (What the fuck is up motherfuckers!? This is Winds Of Plague and all that 2008 shit!) makes me wanna join the Cannibal Corpse fans in drowning this band in diarrhea. Almost all of “Reloaded”’s lyrics look like they were written by a twelve year old wigger. Talking like this wasn’t cool in middle school, and the timespan of trends isn’t cyclical.
And lastly, the stupid, stupid video for “The Impaler.” For some retarded reason, these guys have taken to many circle pits to the head think rap is a great visual influence. With the car and psudo-hype pits, I’m almost embarrassed I bought the album. Never mind the fact we don’t see no one else but the ego masturbating vocalist for the first minute. This is something I’d expect from American Idol or a Puff Daddy thing (or whatever the fuck he’s calling himself this week), not a metal band!
Despite the last five hundred words I don’t hate this band. Every metal genre has had a “big four” and I think Winds of Plague are part of the Big four of Deathcore (for a marketable phrase) with Despised Icon, Suicide Silence and (early) Job for a Cowboy. If we can forgive the ungodly amounts of breakdowns, the guitars have some interesting ideas and are very skillfully executed. Two minutes in “One Body Too Many” (ugh) there’s a very interesting Motorhead come Pantera like bluesy riff that caught me off guard in the good way. And when they decide to “rip it the fuck up,” they can deliver in intensity. And even though Johnny Plague (dear christ) comes off as a cunt in the video with a stage name that took no thought to create, he is a very skilled vocalist and probably the best fit for this band.
The keyboards also help ad an air of epicocity and are quite beautiful at times, which offer a strong contrast to the intensity of the other instruments. But it’s not like mixing oil and water; it’s more like mixing water and lemonade mix. And it’s also great to see a band not make such a big deal about having a GIRL (OMG!!! TEH SEXL!!!) in the band, unlike most female-fronted bands and of course Bleeding Through (who are like a watered down Winds of Plague if the water was from a sewer).
All in all I kinda had fun with this album, but I still won’t admit it in public gatherings. They and the rest of the “Big Four of Deathcore” (which I’m gonna go copyright soon) have albums coming out this summer. So here’s hoping Winds of Plague’s balls will drop and then me and the death metal community will all be able to openly shrug and begrudgingly say “Yeah, they’re pretty all right, I guess.”
“Hello boys and girls, and welcome to metalcore city! I’m the mayor, and I can tell you about every different kind of metalcore, and every variant!”
To be honest, I do feel like a metalcore entomologist, as I can tell people about every permutation and slight variant from every band. Exactly in the same way a person who researches bugs for a living can tell the difference between butterflies. For instance, did you know that because the Monarch butterfly eats milkweed, it has a sour taste? Predators learn quickly not to eat the Monarch because of that sour taste, but there’s another butterfly that has similar markings to a Monarch, but if you look closely, you can see the difference. Mainly the patterning on the wings. But predators also avoid this butterfly because they think it’s a Monarch. I think that’s a perfect analogy to what’s happening to some metalcore bands today, especially those who choose Killswitch Engage, Unearth and As I lay Dying, to name such a few.
It’s true that with a title like “Decimate the Weak” (seriously, aren’t the weak decimated enough already with song titles and album titles?) you’re walking into a city filled to the brim with metalcore cliches, although Winds of Plague attempts to become more of a chimaira by mixing and matching.
The base for this album starts with Bleeding Through, and their brand of black metal meets hardcore by way of keyboards and a few piano lines. Now that you’ve got some black metalcore, mix in some deathcore ultra low grows and tremolo picked riffs, a hardcore shout here and there, a gang shout over in the corner, a couple of melodic metalcore guitar harmonies, and replace about 10% of the single-note breakdowns with southern-fried metalcore slowdowns.
Did you happen to notice though, that I only mentioned one kind metal on it’s own (black metal), while every other part of this band I compared to other styles of metalcore? It’s due to the fact that they’re not actually taking their influences from black metal, death metal, melodic death metal or southern metal (which I think people have tried to do before unsuccessfully), and have instead recycled what had already been recycled by other mix ‘n match metalcore bands who themselves didn’t take influence from the originators. It’s like when you make a copy of a copy from an old-school, grey-scale xerox machine. The first copy tends to look pretty bad, but you can usually read the text, but the next copy become more illegible, and so on and so forth.
Originally posted at www.waytooloud.com
I understand that there is and always will be a rather large group of cocks that consider "metalcore" or "deathcore" to be metal and thus "br00tal" or some stupid shit. I have also come to accept the fact that the good ole USA is not only the chief producer of shitty food and shitty people, but also shitty music. I cannot however accept or tolerate the fact that not only has this conglomeration of aural ass drippings been somehow allowed into Encyclopaedia Metallum, but that there is a single human being alive that would have the audacity to somehow compare this to black metal. ??!!??!!??!!!
What we have here is a band taylor made for the pre-pubescent and mentally pre-pubescent Hot Topic hordes. This album is just as plastic and generic as the casing it comes in. Sickeningly sugary overly clean production, boring unimaginative crash-driven and sub par blast beat laden drumming, horrendously generic guitar and bass, keyboard lines that fail to even scratch the surface of the frozen lake that is black metal essence and vocals that upon hearing fill one with enough nausea and rage to squeeze the life out of a litter of newborn puppies. Would someone also mind telling me since when the bloody fuck did anything straight-edge become even remotely metal???!!! In addition to all of this guess the fuck what? the entire band dresses the fucking part! Which might explain why this album does everything wrong, when everyone spends their time obsessing over weather or not their tough-guy gauges match their fucking tough-guy thug shoes it is difficult to make a good fucking album!!
Some of the subject matter wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for who it was coming from. Stories of battle and bloodshed are inspiring when done correctly, but coming from these douche bags it is about as inspiring as Clay Aiken attempting to bellow an intimidating war cry. I would love to see this band try to pull their tough guy shit in front of Amon Amarth.
In a nutshell, to formulate a decent idea of this album, take any standard "metalcore" band, slice it twain and then smother with keyboards. Do not buy this fucking album!!!!!
The problem with these guys, they aren't beating a dead horse, they're sodomizing it, and then charging people to watch the video on the internet. If you like hardcore, don't buy this album. Hardcore and keyboards don't mix. If you like metal don't buy this album. If you like metalcore, fuck you for letting bands like this get big. The keyboards are VERY much a BAD Devil Wears Prada rip off. Breakdowns abound in this charade they laughingly call an album. The sticker on the packaging describing the band's sound says Scandinavian metal mixed with american hardcore. I say nay on both accounts. First, the vocals are way too mid range yell type to be similar to scandinavian metal. Maybe they meant the keyboards and "lead" guitar work?
The keyboards, as I've mentioned, have more to do with screamo than anything to do with metal. The music is a little too pompous to be hardcore, and it's DIY attitude. this is a manufactured band for the Hot Topic crowd looking for something br00tal, dude. The opening of the album is about the only thing I can stand, truthfully speaking. The styles they tried to mix should NEVER be mixed. The semi gory battle lyrics throughout just make it much worse, they're obviously trying to win over the metalheads. What do they have going good for them, that doesn't keep them from getting a zero in my book? Decent melodic sections in between the vomit inducing breakdowns. The drummer is alright, but I'm not impressed with every drummer that can blastbeat. It doesn't require skill, it requires stamina. If I listened to bands just for their energy, these guys MIGHT hold a little place in the darkest most forbidden part of my little heart, but I like real music, so these guys can stick to their Sounds Of The Underground crowd, and leave the metal to us adults.
Where do I start with this "album"? The whole concept of "black-core" becoming an existing genre is a concept that gives me a headache. What the fuck is next for metal? Folk-core or viking-core? At least the thought of people windmill dancing with axes in their hands is a thought that brings a smile to my face.
Now to the music. What Winds of Plague do for an intro and for about the first two minutes of the first actual song are reasonably interesting. There is a good orchestrated vibe that the keyboards provide, and semi decent riffing from the guitars. Nothing too impressive, and a little cliche.....
Then at 1:56 of the first song the shit bomb is dropped.
Decent orchestrations and melodies are thrown out the window for a shitty, mindless breakdown. Then, as if the band knows what I am thinking, they ask "Is that not annoying enough? Ok, guys. Let's slow it down more!" After I have time to throw up, they recover and bring back some melody and riffs.
Sadly, this is a repeating process throughout the entire album. Decent progressions (as only can be described with metalcore) that start to gain your attention and give you a good feeling, which are then broken up by ear-raping breakdowns that have the audible equivalency of taking a shit.
This album would be tolerable, perhaps good even, if they didn't rely on the stupid interuptions of breakdowns to please their hardcore/scene fanbase. All in all, I say do not touch this album. It will give you herpes.
Right, Winds of Plague. I was browsing CD's in my local Hot Topic (I should've known it was a bad idea) looking for something to buy. I was pissed off and had money to burn. I needed a dose of new metal. I picked up this album, drawn to it by the cover art. "Samurai? Fucking sweet." I read the sticker that said it was, essentially, Blackcore (not the word they used, but Black Metal combined with Hardcore equals Blackcore if you ask me). "Well," I thought to myself, "I'm not a huge black metal fan, but I do like certain -core bands. Maybe this will be cool or maybe it'll suck a fat one like deathcore. Either way, I want to hear it." So I bought it. Shit...
So, what do I find when I put it in? Some symphonic elements. Not so bad, it's just the intro and black metal CAN work well this way. And then a breakdown. I'm not against breakdowns, just bad ones. This one isn't so bad. But then the first actual song comes in, "Anthems of the Apocalypse". What the fuck is this? Not only is this some of the most generic deathcore I've ever heard, but the guitars just noodle around without any real substance to them. The only time it really gets heavy is during the actual breakdowns (unfortunately) and the lead playing is ridiculous. Horrible melodies for the sake of melody and sweep picking for the sake of showing off their uber generic skills. And then the song just turns into some shitty breakdown with no flavor whatsoever. It reminds me of something Waking the Cadaver would do. Almost 6 minutes of this drivel goes on before we get to the next fucking song.
There isn't much more to say about it than that. The rest of the songs are pretty much the same thing wrapped up in a different package. It's your typical deathcore shit (and trust me, I'm not one to stick my nose up at a genre just because it isn't "true" metal). Just more breakdowns (just about every song has the same exact fucking breakdown about 1/3 to 1/2 the way through the song), boring guitar wankery, and attrocious vocals. Yeah, the vocals are gutteral, but it's so fucking rehashed, generic growling that it's just annoying now and the black metal "screams" are hardly such. It sounds more like hardcore screaming than black metal inspired vocalisations. Just shut the fuck up.
There are some redeeming factors. Unlike most people who reviewed this, I like the symphonic elements. Despite the fact that the music itself sucks, I think the symphonic parts work quite well. The guitarists have a lot of skill as players, but when it comes to writing decent shit that doesn't just bore the hell out of you, they fail. In this entire album, there are maybe a combination of 10 good riffs/solos/leads. Maybe. And the vocals on "Decimate the Weak" are actually somewhat catchy about half the time.
Beyond that, though, this album is just shitty deathcore. "Look, we have symphonic elements! We're true fucking kvlt! Worship us!" No, sorry, your "innovation" in a shitty genre doesn't make it any better -- just different. Really, I tend to be open minded about metalcore and it's various -core brethren (Deathcore, Grindcore, etc) because there really is some good shit out there in those genres. This is not one of them. It's just shit, period. I s'pose if Hot Topic is your store of choice, you think breakdowns are br00tal, and you saw Job for a Cowboy as the new messiahs of death metal, this album is JUST for you. Otherwise, if you like music that isn't a snooze-fest and require coherent songwriting before you even consider it music, just pass this up. Even better, do what my friend does every time he sees Linkin Park in the metal section at the local record store. Pick up the album and throw it across the store screaming about how much it sucks (no joke, he fucking does it).
(By the way, I saved myself the trouble of critiquing that god-awful "Reloading" song because it really is as bad as everyone else has said. No sense in beating a dead horse.)
This album singlehandedly proves atheism. Seriously, what kind of omnibenevolent God would allow this entire 36 minutes of 100% concentrated auditory fecal matter to exist? This is ghastly enough to give Satan himself a raging boner and make him jealous that he didn’t make it first. Honestly, the very concept of symphonic deathcore is what nightmares are made of. This band should be tried as war criminals for even thinking such a thing. I mean, come on, this combines the worst concept ever (symphonic), with the worst genre ever (deathcore). This isn’t even the funny kind of bad, like Giddy Up Gangsta, this is just the worst thing ever.
Anyways, onto the actual songs. The opener, ‘A Cold Day in Hell’ the keyboards are actually kind of interesting, the rest of the instrumentation is average, and nothing special. ‘Anthems of Apocalypse,’ wow, this is dumb. A cavalcade of insipid melodic riffing, ridiculously bad breakdowns (seriously, I counted like 3 or 4 of them.), completely in-your-face keyboards, just in case you didn’t get it that they’re symphonic and even a laughable attempts at clean vocals around 3:24. Next.
The beginning to ‘The Impaler’ reminds me of Obituary, for no reason at all. The highlight (I use that term loosely) of this song is the just plain awful lyrics at 0:46. The worst is yet to come, though… the mandatory pause sandwiched between the two breakdowns is just pointless, and another reason to just shout at you “HEY! WE HAVE A KEYBOARDIST! THAT MAKES US DIFFERENT!” The title track has one of the riffs from the last song. And is basically an exercise in fitting as many breakdowns into a song as possible. Except they’re all the same. Literally, the same! Not similar, not alike. THE FUCKING SAME. It’s the same vocal hook being repeated over the same riff and drum pattern for a few bars. It’s a blatant lack of originality that permeates the entire album and it’s annoying as hell.
‘Origins and Endings’ is where I had to stop listening to this and turn on Seven Churches to avoid a brain hemorrhage. Listening resumed, soon after, as I braced myself once more for the descent into hell. Anyways, this song is pretty stupid, and decides to start off with a breakdown. It seems that the only variation between these is when they come in. The keyboards seem a little louder in this one, and that alone is enough to earn my ire. I couldn’t even get all the way through it. I’m speechless.
On ‘Angel of Debauchery’ they decide to try some neo-classical riffing, and it completely clashes with the synth’s attempts to be epic. And what the fuck is up with the random melodic noodling? It doesn’t fit at all, and is completely just… out there. What the fuck? Am I listening to an Opeth album, now? God damn, make up your fucking mind. ‘Reloaded’ is unspeakably horrific. Easily the low point. Terrible lyrics, terrible riffs, and that puts me into a bad enough mood to say that the breakdowns are even worse, despite being exactly the same.
‘Unbreakable’…. I was wondering when the pinch harmonics would rear their ugly fucking head, and on here, there’s almost an entire riff of exclusively those. ‘One Body Too Many’ has some more ridiculous riffing and banal keyboards. ‘Legions’, FINALLY! The end is within sight! So close, so far away, still. The start/stop riff is worse than most of the other ones, and the vocals try to be more br00thal than before. Finally, the keyboards show signs of dying, and the album is over. I managed to live through it, albeit barely. By the end, I was left crippled and decrepit. Really, I've heard better winds of plague from my flaccid, hairy buttocks.
So, because of the IMPROPER USE OF KEYBOARDS(!!!!), the innumerable deathcore cliches, and the single worst use of breakdowns ever conceived by human mind, I'm condemning this album the worst grade I will ever give. Not even St. Anger is this horrid.
With metalcore being so big, and the brutal death metal/metalcore scene growing quite rapidly, one tends to ponder what the next step would be. You know you could yourself thinking: "They better not try to mix it with black metal!" Well, this thought as well as "I wonder what it will sound like," will probably run through your head when you read the sticker on the cover wrapping to the new craze Winds Of Plague. Yes, now you can enjoy a laugh out loud watered down symphonic version of Scandinavian metal mixed with wretched and insulting lyrics and breakdowns that make the hardcore kids scream with crusty pants!
If you happen to go to any web site where this band is mentioned and post anything negative, you will be ripped apart by the hordes of fans this abomination has. But the question is why? What redeeming quality does this band have? First of all, the band looks like they stepped out of a rap video, and their merch includes shirts along the lines of preppy, as well as a basketball jersey! If you're going to insult us while trying to be us, you can at least try to look the part! And to make matters worse, the music is simply awful. The band just sounds like watered down versions of Dimmu Borgir, Whitechapel (as far as the breakdowns) and Nile just to name a few. Most of the time they can't figure out if they want to be brutal death, metalcore, black metal, or want to completely rip off the band Abigail Williams (which the keyboardist was a member of).
Now, here's where it gets interesting: The music is actually somewhat good. Yes, you heard right. If the band would just stick with one style, a symphonic black metal, they would be great. But, they seem to hide their talent in those baggy rapper-esque jeans they wear and destroy it completely with clashing, slow as hell keyboard solos, and breakdowns that consist of one drum cymbol crash and maybe two chords per every line of a four line breakdown. Only a few songs, such as "Decimate The Weak", have breakdowns that have a few more crashes and chords. And to make matters worse, they add in the traditional hardcore chants on the same song, as well as others, during what is supposed to be the black metal (or death metal) portion of the song.
The vocals are decent on the CD some of the time, being one of the very few minor redeeming qualities. They sound metalcore, so they fit the breakdowns, even as random things said loudly prior to a breakdown, such as on the song "Origins And Endings". But this is quickly overshadowed by the horrible, unimaginative lyrics that seem as though they were rushed by a twelve year old who thinks Bleeding Through is true brutal death metal. The only real saving point to this release is would be the track "Angels Of Debauchery", which actually has some great keyboard work and controlled drumming, lacks three to four breakdowns in a three minute period, and music that actually sounds good with this vocal style. That's because this song is more of a hardcore track then anything else which, again, when they focus on trying to be one thing specifically (maybe introducing a slight influence from another style) they have the abilit to sound pretty good. But, then you get tracks like "Reloaded" which are just laugh out loud bad with horrible music and lyrics that literally say things like "What the fuck is up motherfuckers? This is what it's about, all that 2008 shit. We've got the world in the palm of our hands. Bustas fall down when we're barking commands." This, again, raises the question of why they are in this style mocking us and not in the rap style where they fit in lyrically! And exactly what the fuck are bustas?!
Winds Of Plague show a lot of talent when they sit with one style and work with it. But instead, they seem to merge into various styles with a tough guy attitude, and by doing so completely ruin the CD. When you pass by a used CD bin and find four copies of this release already in it for under five U.S. dollars on the day the CD is released, you know that this band has failed in some way. Decimate The Weak is just like the band, a plague. This release was either created to intentionally piss off the metal community, or it was made as a total joke that the band refuses to let the world in on.
Now I have never given out a 100% on any release before so this one is very good. Winds of plague does a very good job of mixing death metal and hardcore. They are one of the few bands that can actually pull it off, but to add keyboards into the mix is a totally different story.
The first two songs are linked together and it starts out with a sick breakdown-is kind of militant drum beat. once the second track starts there is some mad sweep picking that changes the mood. This happens a lot. The mood of the song is changed but it all flows together, from the heavy as shit breakdowns, crazy sweep picking, and more mellow keyboard intros and interludes, which really bring an atmospheric feeling to the table much like a lot of black metal bands do. Although I definitely am not calling this a black metal band, but there is strong influence in the keyboards. The keyboards remind me of Dimmu Borgir's in a way, they are atmospheric and epic at the same time. And I don't use the word epic lightly.
The thing about the album that I really liked is the hardcore mix was much different than other "death core" bands. With other bands there are death metal riffs and a breakdown here and there and that's about it. With Winds of Plague they also add gang vocals. Most notable for this is in the track "Decimate the Weak". About halfway through the song it stops and a fucking ferocious "I AM SENT FROM HELL!!!!" breaks through. Now if for some reason you are sleeping, which you really shouldn't be since this is such a good cd. But if you are this will wake your ass up and probably scare the shit out of you. A good breakdown riff follows and the gang vocals start up. The vocalist will scream something in a high Cannibal Corpse styled scream and then you'll hear "Decimate the Weak!" and it alternates between the two. This sounds real cool.
"Unbreakable" and "One Body Too Many" both have a southern rock feel to some of the riffs so if your into that you'll like these tracks especially.
I also really like the drum work, its not too complicated but not too simple at the same time. But really I could go on all day about how bad ass this CD is so take it from me, if you want a sick hardcore/ death metal CD with Cannibal Corpse styled vocals mixed with gang vocals, epic keyboards, sick sweep picking and some downright bad ass art work just go and buy it. I have listened to this CD every day since it has cam out and it still hasn’t gotten old.
Tracks to pay attention to: Decimate The Weak, Angels Of Debauchery, and Reloaded (For the Hardcore kids).
So with Winds of Plague we have yet another deathcore band. I know what you're thinking, "Dude, sweet!" And yeah dude you're right, it's totally sweet. However, WoP (er, maybe I won't use that acronym again) added in something a little unexpected. Nutty symphonic keyboards! How nutty? As nutty as I get after looking at midget porn. I'll let that settle in for a minute.
And we're back. While the additions of keyboards might seem rather insignificant it actually adds a lot more than you'd think. There is a sense of urgency and importance more so than a typical deathcore band. Also it's just cool to rock out to some blisteringly paced keys while the drummer pounds the hell out of the drums.
I have to say that I absolutely adore the lyrics too. While they are rather cheesy, they have a quality about them that just clicks with me. Considering that this is metal I'm sure you've all already figured out that the quality they have is hatefulness. If you're having a shitty day or if you're just in a bad mood then this is the perfect CD to pop in and just beat the living shit out of someone to. In your mind. Don't actually beat anyone up people, please! Just picture her stupid face getting smashed in with a sledgehammer while the singer spits out biting lyrics about vengeance and torture. That way if it's all in your head then you won't have to worry about going to jail or finding a way to dispose of a body.
Then we have the guitars. The guitars in this band add what I like to call, "shredfest". No it has nothing to do with sticking a body in a wood chipper. Like in Fargo, did you see Fargo? How awesome was that by the way when the foot was sticking out and all the blood was spraying everywhere. Er, anyways, what I meant by shredfest was that if you hear guitar on this album the odds of it being a hot lead or a sick solo is pretty good. When it's not then you have chugging breakdowns and bone crunching two step rhythms.
That's what makes this album special to me. Everyone in this band has talent. How many bands can you honestly say that about. Usually it'll be one or two band members that stand out while the rest just kind of play in the background. Not this band, everyone has their part to play and they all do it well.
If I had to pick one song off this album as an example of how perfect it is then I would choose "Anthems of Apocalypse". It is the pinnacle of symphonic deathcore. It has the aforementioned hateful lyrics, an extremely tasty solo, and a really moving part that is just drums and keys. Since picking up this CD I have listened to this song probably, 40, no 50 thousand times. Give or take a thousand.
I can't possibly recommend this CD more highly. Honestly since I started listening to it I find myself unable to listen to other music. I'll try to put something else on but I'll still have Winds of Plague stuck in my head and I'll have to put it back on. So, dear reader, broaden your horizons (like I refuse to do) and check out something a little different than the norm. OK, a LOT different than the norm but still the norm sucks anyways and everyone should listen to what I listen to, right?
Oh and for the one person that complains I never say anything about the bass on the CDs I review then I will say this about the bass: it's bassy.
The idea of combining metalcore with symphonic elements is not uncommon, most notable is Abigail Williams whom garnered attention from both positive and negative spectrums for their style of music and their reluctance to shut the fuck up about being epic. Winds of Plague are another band who attempts this style but instead they directly combine these symphonic elements with deathcore, and the result is highly varied to the point of frustration. Deathcore is a particularly terrible genre, headed by the infamous Job for a Cowboy (or at least previously) and contains a slew of bands that all share the same indistinguishable traits of being brutal, boring and banal.
Winds of Plague seem to try and use these symphonic elements as a means to create an epic soundscape and whilst it's obvious since they're primarily composed of drawn out violins backed by a weak brass section, it's ultimately ruined by the overt deathcore moments. The first section of "The Impaler" is actually a decent combination and is rather seamless, admittedly the riffing isn't overly great but you can't expect too much from a deathcore band. Then there's a breakdown and everything is ruined forever, mostly. This album is just too schizophrenic for its own good at times; there are some worthwhile blast beats, one or two good melodeath riffs, mediocre soloing and even decent vocals and choruses.
I mean there are moments where I didn't want to excise my eardrums from my head using a corkscrew; "Decimate the Weak" is pretty good despite the terrible breakdown somewhere in the first half, "Unbreakable" is the most bearable song on the entire album with some well-written riffs but without the attention-seeking breakdowns and tasteful symphonic elements. Unfortunately the rest of the album is just nothing more than an exercise in annoying breakdowns, guitar sounds to spice up your songs (dive-bombing, pick scrape, pinch harmonics) and crap riffs. 'Origins and Endings' exhibits the 'annoying dive-bombs with whammy bar' all the fucking time for no real reason and it gets extremely annoying because they show some skill on the previous song and then proceed to hide it somewhere in their massive baggy shorts/pants whilst opting for fucking breakdowns! There are no excuses for this shit; you either play metal at 11 or you don't play metal at all damnit! Even lyrically the band fails in being unique or at least adept with plenty of tough guy posturing and swearing, it's just another flavour in the spectrum of metalcore writing and it's no better than the weepy words of the other innumerable bands. The breakdowns are also fucking ridiculous, some songs can contain up to in excess of two to three breakdowns?! Do hardcore kids really need to jumpdafuckup that often in a fucking 3 minute interval?
The keyboards/symphonic section of the band is also lacking at times, as said I prefer that they haven't made the two fight to the death for front place in each and every song but for the most part they seem so ineffectual and rather gimmicky. There's nothing particularly epic about the riffs in this band or the atmosphere they portray, well except when they do the odd scale run to look fancy and wanky but they aren't really. In fact upon further reflection there aren't any notable moments wherein the keyboards really stood out and lead a section in full glory, they seem to linger in the shadows like a pantsless stalker and do absolutely nothing inventive or useful for expanding upon a potential genre.
This band really should just drop the keyboards and breakdowns, they could probably make an average death metal record if they really tried and at least they'd be doing something useful rather than further saturating this superfluous genre with more gimmicks that hold no real weight. Above average deathcore at best I suppose, if you liked Job for a Cowboy then you'd probably find some merit in this album which means it's also applicable for those of you who indulged in eating lead-based paint as a child.