Feb 082024

(Andy Synn praises the new album from this German quintet, out Feb 16 on Lifeforce Records)

So far this week I’ve covered a moody “Doom-gaze” album and an ostentatiously melodic piece of bombastic Prog Rock by an ex-Death Metal band… and I’m worried people might be starting to think I’ve gone soft.

Well, to make up for it, here’s a few thoughts about the bleak ‘n’ blistering new album from German Blackened Sludge crew Praise the Plague.

Are you happy now?

Well, chances are you won’t be for long, not once the sinister, scene-setting introduction of “Veil of Tyrants” fully manifests into a series of seething, sinuous tremolo lines and colossal, crushing chords before… finally… unleashing the torrential rain of blastbeats and barbed shrieks that had been hovering just over the horizon all this time.

One thing that this song makes clear – and which the gargantuan gloom and groaning doom of “The Tide” then further reinforces – is that Praise the Plague are still a patient bunch of predators, more than willing to wait, as long as it takes, for the right moment to strike.

Don’t get me wrong, this was already pretty apparent on 2021’s The Obsidian Gate, which really saw the band leaning into the doomier side of their sound, but the overarching aura of ominous atmosphere which covers this entire album – which, to my ears at least, pushes the more intensely aggressive Black Metal elements of their identity to the forefront a little more this time around – only reinforces this impression that these six songs have been written more to capture a certain mood than to fit into a particular box.

The signature refrain of “Astray from Light” (reminiscent, in parts, of Abigail Williams at their darkest and most desolate), for example, repeats itself in different forms – some doomier, some more blackened – throughout the track, lacing the song with a singular, unbroken thread of pure melodic misery, while the primal rhythms and pulsing hooks of “A Serpent’s Tongue” (which put an extra emphasis on the brooding bass and driving drum work) possess a truly haunting and hypnotic quality which, I’m sure, will prove difficult (if not impossible) for most listeners to resist.

This morbidly mesmerising quality is most definitely the album’s key strength (which is not, in any way, an attempt to downplay or denigrate the venomous, visceral nature of the band’s delivery, as they’ve most definitely upped their collective game in this regard as well) as although the majority of the tracks take their time to draw you in before springing shut like a set of jagged, bone-scraping jaws (with the more immediate and in-your-face “Devourer” being the exception to the rule) once they finally have you in their grip they’re unlikely to let you go any time soon.

Indeed, despite its unforgiving and unfriendly nature there’s just something about Suffocating in the Current of Time – as epitomised by the titanic, tolling guitars and blinding, bile-spewing fury of eight minute closer “Throne of Decay”, whose Dragged Into Sunlight-esque mixture of malice and malevolence serves as a fittingly cathartic climax to the album as a whole, as well as being a fantastic piece of work in its own right – which draws you in and insinuates itself under your skin, whether you want it to or not.

And whether that’s a warning, or a recommendation, is entirely up to you.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.