We’ve closely followed the releases of Ohio’s Plaguewielder almost from the band’s inception, not only for the obvious reason that we’ve found the music consistently compelling but also because the progression from one release to the next has never been entirely predictable.
To be sure, dark shadows have consistently swathed the music, and it has been continuously fueled by harrowing emotional intensity. As we observed in reviewing their most recent album, the remarkable Covenant Death, “feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and fury have always seem to be fighting to get out into the songs”.
But, especially as revealed on that latest album, the band’s stylistic ingredients have become increasingly multi-faceted. That album was still music as catharsis, as Plaguewielder‘s music always has been, but the range of musical influences expanded outward in captivating ways.
We’ve learned that Plaguewielder are at work on their next album, which will have the evocative title In Dust and Ash, and we will again be eager (and intrigued) to hear it. But in the meantime Plaguewielder are bridging the gap between full-lengths with a new EP named Burning Death (set for release tomorrow via Jeff Wilson‘s disorder-recordings), and once again it holds surprises.
For these three new songs the band’s leader Bryce Seditz (vocals, guitars) was again joined by drummer Tim Roberts, and also by Kasey Davidson on bass. The songs include one new single (the title track) and a couple of unexpected choices for cover songs — “Territorial Pissing” (originally by Nirvana) and “Denim Demon” (originally by Turbonegro).
Picking two punk rock songs for the covers probably influenced what you’ll hear on the new original track. “Burning Death” bounces — like boulders bouncing — stripped-down and jumping but heavy as hell. It’s angry music too; that comes through in Seditz‘s scalding snarls and throat-cutting screams, in the grim tone of the guitar and bass, and in the vicious way the riffing rises, falls, and jolts.
In some ways “Burning Death” is a mean, fist-swinging brawler, and the high-octane drumming will light a fire under listeners’ nerves, but the song also segues into an even more bleak and desolate experience near the end.
Turbonegro‘s “Denim Demon” was a rager — feral, ferocious, and fueled by a fuck-off attitude, but also damned addictive. Plaguewielder don’t mess with the goods too much, but they do make the song more bruising and scarier. Seditz‘s acid-drenched vocals are defiunitely more scalding, and the riffs are definitely more punishing (even though the drumming will still give your pulse a swift kick in the ass).
Territorial Pissings” first appeared on the immortal Nevermind. It’s also a raging but undeniably hook-laden song, in which Kurt Cobain sounded like he was trying to rip his own throat out. It became part of the soundtrack of the times for a lot of us of a certain age. Plaguewielder’s cover is again mostly faithful to the original, but somehow Seditz’s harsh vocals are even more off the hook in their raw fury and the song as a whole sounds like a fucking bonfire gone wild.
I’m not sure anyone should take Burning Death as a preview of what’s coming on Plaguewielder‘s next album. It’s more likely a one-off tribute to punk, rendered in Plaguewielder‘s own terms. But who knows? What we do know is that, standing alone, it’s damned good.
Burning Death was engineered by Bryce Seditz (with additional production by Chris Vogagis), and it was mixed and mastered by Jeff Wilson. It’s available via Bandcamp for one U.S. dollar — or anything more that you might want to contribute as a sign of support.