It seems as if there really isn’t a lot of room for innovation when it comes to brutal death metal and personally, I’m okay with that. The reason for that is because I know exactly what I’m going to get 95% of the time and it’s what I enjoy. Unfortunately, every once in a while I find myself wishing for something more from the sub-genre, as I’m sure we all do with our preferred realms of musical taste, and it can be difficult to satisfy that craving. This is where Plague Widow comes in. A group of young brutal death/grind enthusiasts from Sacramento, California, who come bearing to me their brand new and debut self-titled EP, “Plague Widow.” Now, some of you may read that this is an EP, and wonder why I am not doing this for the March installment of the Blast Radius column. My answer to you will be evident soon enough.
Blast.Grind.Destroy. This is the mantra that Plague Widow stands by, and boy do they deliver on it. After a thunderous and ambient introduction, you are treated with their brand of discordant and mesmerizing brutal death/grind. Bellowing growls on top of bludgeoning blastbeats and creative fretboard-play is how the meat of the EP is presented to you. It is a non-stop grind attack that not only feels fresh, but is catchy as all hell, too.
Throughout 9 tracks and 15 minutes of pure misanthropic brutal death/grind that sounds like a mixture of the string-bending madness that is Wormed and the dissonant misery of Portal, Plague Widow takes up this style and completely make it their own. Tracks like ‘Womb,’ ‘Mabus Incarnate,’ and ‘Void’ show their more straight-forward brutal death influence, while later tracks such as ‘Assimilated Subconscious’ and ‘Operating The Segmental Apparatus’ seem to take that dissonant misery I described and double-down on it with melodic grind shining through. With that kind of versatility in a brutal death/grind band, it can be paramount in propelling them to the next level.
One of the other things that really took me by surprise was the track titled ‘Abyss II.’ The reason for that is it appears to be an homage to the classic Acid Bath track ‘Ode of the Paegan’ from “Paegan Terrorism Tactics.” With an effect similar to that from the introduction track, one of the members pitch-shifts their voice and what seems like a psychotic manifesto is spoken clearly, giving an ominous atmosphere for the listener. It just felt like a very odd thing to find on an album like this, especially when ‘Ode of the Paegan’ was originally released over 15 years ago, but it just adds to why I’ve enjoyed “Plague Widow” as much as I have. The only thing that bugs me is that a third of the running time is spent on the intro and outro, which are booming ambient tracks with no actual music. I want more music, just because Plague Widow has me hooked in their bombastic style.
I originally wanted to save Plague Widow for the next Blast Radius column, but it would be nothing short of selfish and irresponsible for me to keep a band like this under wraps and not share it with the rest of you good people. In a sub-genre that seems to pride itself on producing the same results over and over again, Plague Widow is an incredible breath of fresh air who bring with them a lot of talent and interesting song-structures. I can see them doing very well in a live setting, and from those I know who have had the chance to witness them, my assumptions have been confirmed multiple times. Plague Widow right now only has three members, and the music on this EP makes it sound as if they have five with how crushing the material is. There is a lot here to get any brutal death/grind enthusiast hooked, and I will definitely be keeping my eye on Plague Widow, and you can get in on this by going to their Facebook page and purchasing the EP for a minimum of $2 (or more if you’re feeling generous). Come on, that is one hell of a bargain you’re getting for skull splitting brutal death/grind.
Blast.Grind.Destroy., Plague Widow. Blast.Grind.Destroy.