Plague Years - Circle Of Darkness review

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Band: Plague Years
Album: Circle Of Darkness
Release date: September 2020

01. Play The Victim
02. Witness Hell
03. Paradox Of Death
04. Eternal Fire
05. Circle Of Darkness
06. Evil One
07. Incantation
09. World In Blood
10. Urge To Kill

Hell awaits.

If you are someone who is of the faint of heart, I would suggest you avoid this album and listen to something less extreme like Venom, because Circle Of Darkness takes no prisoners from the off.

The first thing that will hit you as you hit play beyond the immediate sonic pummelling you have unleashed from your speakers are that Plague Years are schooled in the Power Trip brand of thrash. Though they wear their influences on their sleeve and get top marks on this test, they aren't carbon copies and differ from their main influence by leaning more on a death metal-influenced sound than a crossover one. It may seem like a very small change in sound, but it is one that makes a big impact on the overall album, with vocals that are more guttural and visceral, drums that focus more on out and out power than sitting back in the groove (though with exceptions) and tempos that go to greater extremes. If you enjoyed Nightmare Logic but want to hear its bastardized brother, then Circle Of Darkness awaits.

Plague Years do well at maintaining a demonic tone throughout; each song is imbued with a raw and hellish sound that gives the album a common thread running throughout, enhancing the listening experience as it ties each song together. From the sharp-toned guitars of Lauder to the infernal cries that sound like they're coming from the fires and brimstone below via the conduit of Englehardt, you have a band who conjure up sounds and images to partner the music.

The band introduce you to their world slowly with "Play The Victim" before cracking the Earth beneath your feet and swallowing you whole with the tempo change soundtracking your descent to the fiery depths below. The band are at the peak of their abilities when they mix the fast-paced thrash tracks that are powered by a death metal engine ala "Incantation" and "Witness Hell", overwhelming your senses and shaking you until adrenaline is just oozing out of your skin.

The band do pull themselves back from the brink of extremity (though remain heavy as hell) on occasion, giving the album much-needed diversity, with tracks like "Paradox Of Death" and "Evil One" being more groove-orientated track whilst still possessing a deadly underbite and menace that lurks beneath what appears to be a less intense song.

For as good as these mid-tempo ragers are, the band show they have yet to fully master mid-tempo tracks, with "Eternal Fire" and "World In Blood" (though the latter track sounds like a good follow on from Slayer's "World Painted Blood" in terms of theme) being as uninteresting as the prior two were interesting. While the desire and attempt at trying something new and different is welcome, the problem lies in the execution.

While the band vary up their approach in terms of tracks and playing styles, the one person who is constant throughout is Englehardt; although he varies the intensity of his demonic pained vocals, he sticks to the one trick throughout. While I don't mind the lack of variation in his vocals (I think it suits the music perfectly) I can foresee some tiring of his approach as the album goes on, or taking an instant dislike to the style. The other constant this record has is a bass that is buried beneath everything else, reducing its role to a bit part player; aside from its deep rumblings you can never hear anything clearly, instead of being given its own spot in the mix where it could have clearly been heard to enhance the sound.

Those issues aside, my experience wandering the hell fires that Cirlce Of Darkness draws for you was a positive experience (like AC/DC said, hell ain't a bad place to be) and one I'm sure to be spinning for a good while to come. Though the album does have its problems, it does far more right than it gets wrong; Plague Years certainly mark themselves down as a band to keep an eye on.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Written on 16.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 45 users
17.10.2020 - 12:24

They are ready to take a throne from POWERTRIP...
17.10.2020 - 18:29
Written by traililya on 17.10.2020 at 12:24

They are ready to take a throne from POWERTRIP...

No way this band is even close to Power Trip.
19.10.2020 - 11:08

Without Riley they are done like Motorhead or Nevermore.

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