We all know that “old school death metal” isn’t really a single institution of lower learning (underground, to be clear), or if it is, it’s one with a quite divergent curriculum. And so to say that the music of the Greek band Plague is OSDM leaves questions unanswered. They are forthright in disclosing that they are heavily influenced by death metal’s early beginnings, but which beginnings?
In spreading the word about the forthcoming debut album of these Athenians, who formed Plague in 2011 and released their first work (the Abyssdiver EP) in 2014, Redefining Darkness Records makes reference to the early ’90s American scene — to the likes of early Death, Massacre, Brutality, and Skeletal Remains. And today we have a vivid further sign of Plague’s inspirations (and formidable talents) in the premiere of the new album’s first single, “Portal Into Reality“.
That new album, Portraits of Mind, will be released on February 14th by Redefining Darkness in the U.S. and by Nuclear Winter Records in Europe. And if you couldn’t guess, it’s adorned by the stunning artwork of the maestro Paolo Girardi.
“Portal Into Reality” provides a fine balance of seething malice and morbid malignancy, of fast-twitch fretwork and eerie soloing, with plenty of turn-on-a-dime changes in percussive rhythm to further enhance the music’s dynamism. And the song bears out the labels’ claim that Plague “effortlessly combine simplicity in form with stellar musicianship” — and, we might add, excellent songwriting skill.
The track kick-starts your heart-rate without delay, immediately providing propulsive momentum with a hammering drum beat and a poisonous, rapidly buzzing riff. As that hornet-swarm guitar sound continues, it becomes more demented and the drums become more maniacal, paving the way for the vocals to arrive, which expel the lyrics in a vicious (and also enraged) growl. Things get even more interesting as the fretwork becomes a darting and jabbing phenomenon and the drum rhythms shift repeatedly.
Eventually, the band ease up on the throttle and move the mood into more dismal and cadaverous catacombs, in preparation for a guitar solo that becomes the transitional element back into a reprise of the more accelerated start of the song; it begins in ghoulish fashion and then quivers, swirls, and soars. When the band do punch the pedal hard again, they provide an electrifying, pulse-pounding finale — and underscore the catchiness of the song at the same time.
Portraits of Mind was recorded by Giannis Petroyiannis at Matrix Studios in Athens, and it was mixed and produced by Plague and Dimitris Mysirlis at Matrix Studios. For pre-order info in advance of the February 14 release date, check the links below.