Winds Of Plague - The Great Stone War
Century Media
Symphonic Deathcore / Death Metal
11 songs (37:17)
Release year: 2009
Century Media
Reviewed by Kyle

As much as I loathe the inept and monotonous subgenre of metal known as deathcore, I can’t help but be charmed by bands like Winds Of Plague. Much like several other bands of the genre (Such as The Faceless) have been doing, they’re straying away from the traditional deathcore style, adding in a death metal element that is just as prominent as the ‘core garbage that’s the basis for their sound, along with some highly symphonic sounds thanks to the increased keyboard presence over Decimate The Weak, the band’s first album on Century Media.

Though it’s all too easy make the analogy of the orcish beast on the cover representing deathcore while the knight represents death metal (A “knight in shining armor” come to save us from the ‘core hordes, if you will), The Great Stone War is actually a concept album about the deterioration of our modern society, eventually ending in one massive final battle that’s fought with stone rather than technology. The lyrics here are much improved from the “Don’t mess with me, this is who I am” rubbish from the band’s previous effort, and though far from masterful, the style the lyrics are written in and the story itself are rather interesting. There’s also an entertaining (if unnecessary) homage to 300 on the album’s culminating title track.

The music itself, however, is rather hit or miss. But lets start with the good: every song on The Great Stone War is highly symphonic, giving every track an epic feel to go along with the excellent cover art. The production, as expected for a major deathcore release like this, is very well done (Maybe even a bit overpolished); I really like WoP’s guitar tone, and the symphonic keyboard work is varied and shines with utter clarity, with a professionalism akin to a major Hollywood movie score, giving some songs like Chest And Horns an Egyptian or Arabian vibe (though this is by no means anything like Nile). That particular song is easily my favorite on The Great Stone War; there’s actually some technical riffing and time signature changes abound, and there’s hardly anything “Core” about it.

And now for the bits of the album that I found much more distasteful. For whatever reason, Winds Of Plague insists on splitting vocal duties between a surprisingly good growler and a hardcore-style singer that’s, quite frankly, godawful. His voice sounds strained, and though I’m sure he believes he sounds intimidating, to these ears he sounds a bit ridiculous and almost timid, as if his big, bad shrieks are only a facade to hide a much less intimidating person underneath. And the breakdowns… I just can’t stand them. As a guitarist myself, it’s absolutely painful to listen to such uncreative passages; WoP will literally play the SAME palm muted note for thirty seconds at a time, in a very slow and simple pattern. On every. Single. Song. Sometimes, these horrible stretches are accompanied by catchy keyboard work to keep you interested, but it simply can’t hide the extremely lazy and completely uninspired guitar work at hand. And let it be known that I am not against breakdowns by any means - Suffocation’s Effigy Of The Forgotten is one of my all-time favorite death metal albums – but it’s a shame that the ones present here lack the creativity heard in some of the death metal oriented material. Also, other than the killing songs listed below, the tracks are all too same-y and unintentionally melt into each other (At least Decimate The Weak had a variety of songs), and a good majority of the songs have no real ending and simply fade out in the end.

So at the end of this short-lived album, I’m left with incredibly mixed feelings over The Great Stone War. The music is both good and bad at the same time, with some truly original riffs and melodies all over the place, though the foundation of the album is still decidedly deathcore in nature, creating an uncomfortable hybrid of deathcore and death metal that some will like and some won’t. But if you can stomach some awful breakdowns and weak hardcore vocals, and aren’t afraid to swallow your pride and actually give a deathcore band a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised with The Great Stone War.

Killing Songs :
Forged In Fire, Battle Scars, Chest And Horns, The Great Stone War
Kyle quoted 69 / 100
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