1.) The Spectral Solent 05:48
2.) I Am the Fucking Pariah 02:48
3.) Royal Carrion 04:27
4.) Eternally Lurking Shadows 03:39
5.) Breaking the Armour of Light 06:14
6.) A Frigid White Vault 04:39
7.) Caress the Catacombs 03:31
8.) Chimes 07:22
I’ll start this review with this…
. The state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.
What is it that draws us to the unknown? Is it our like mindedness as individuals within the genre that makes us just that little curious? Or do those who fear the unknown stay away due to the Obscurity? Are those people happy in the knowledge that the safety net of music they surround themselves in is their comfort zone never fearing to tread into the realms of the obscure and unknown? Myself I’ve always had that curiosity, maybe that’s why I’m set to roam the earth looking for those acts that dare to tread the path least travelled by most.
As I gather my parchment, quill and my battered old Walkman I set out into the freezing December mists to see what the anonymity Plaguehurst has to offer on his Sophmore album Communionem.
Track 1 The Spectral Solent opens some what differently to what the usual black metal album would. The choice of rhythm used is as much a pleasant surprise to me as it would be to any listener. The feel that the band has taken a much more clean old school rock n roll element and brought it to the forefront of this grim and hateful genre is as bigger shock as humanly possible. The riffs are clear and almost jolly but is this the irony within the band? They seem to have captured the happiest beat and riff it’s almost reminiscent of a garage band or even back in the late 50’s early 60’s skiffle group. With the layering of the most hate filled vocals over the top, this brings home the truth and provokes the reaction Where on earth have these guys been hiding all this time. This slice of pure almost pleasurable track really invokes that curiosity of what else is to come. As the end draws to a close of this track we’re treated to an acoustic outro. Very sombre yet classical within its playing style. A great closer it has to be agreed, both different yet still retaining both it’s gritty and grim charm.
Track 2 I Am the Fucking Pariah opens with guttural vocals and riffs to match, the drums are very muted yet they still manage to create a pace and a great little rock n roll 4/4 beat as in the previous track. The signature riff from the previous track creeps back in little flourishes, between the verses are where it all gets turned up a notch with a cacophony of sound with some extreme riffs and blast beats it brings in that signature black metal sound. Well mixed together the closing verse of the track is where its at. With a mean solo that harks back to an almost classic thrash era. This really puts a whole new spin on the track and the acts ability to fuse multiple genres together.
Track 3 Royal Carrion opens like your traditional black metal track would, ferocious drumming and the beautifully tremolo picked riffs though not played in your standard style these riffs are of a more muted tone, not the usual piercing style of which we know and love. Between the black metal riffs is still that stunning little rock n roll reference, it’s almost like listening to a Motorhead 7″ vinyl played on 331/3. It has that fluidity, yet it sounds like it’s just being dragged through the mire. This I feel lends itself to the acts sound, coupled with the demonic vocals really makes for a great untapped sound.
Track 4 Eternally Lurking Shadows follows on from the previous track in its black metal opening, however with the lead picking out some opportune moments to shine through with some stunning solo work, makes the track much more grandeur in its own rite. I feel there may be a light little synth work lurking in the background giving this track that little light dungeon synth feel. This I feel has backed the track stunningly with the gritty break downs between verses. The synth provides a almost swirling and distorting sound to the track which fits the title aptly. The feeling something is lurking behind you is always there. The breakdowns give the feeling your running for your life and the ominous music is constantly gaining on you never letting you out of its site until the end of the track where the sky’s crack with thunder and that creeping feeling leaves.
Track 5 Breaking the Armour of Light certainly picks up where the previous track left off. As the music creeps upon you the sound of the thunder returns and your left feeling your right back in the nightmare once again. This track has a more DSBM feel to it, with the vocals not only lingering but becoming more desperate whilst being much more in its own Satanic style. The lyrical content certainly sums it up with lyrics like “Chocking the Vatican, Consuming Jerusalem, Defiling the Eucharist”. This track is definitely what I’ve been discussing in most of my posts regarding the Pembrokeshire Black Circle. Their music and their beliefs are matched in pure hatred towards the light and all must be extinguished from existence.
Track 6 A Frigid White Vault brings back that more bouncy rock element back in however this now feels like it’s got that more punk edge. I’ve been racking my brain and I finally have it. This certainly has some Dead Kennedy’s influence to it and it comes in the form of Holiday In Cambodia. This little nod just goes to show that punk has always been a heavy influence throughout black metal and there is nothing short of evidence in most tracks out there. It just takes a keen listener to pick it out, that and it pretty much bred itself out of the era. The only twist here is the vocals and the stunning solos slipped in-between those punk like riffs.
Track 7 Caress the Catacombs opens with a beautiful acoustic gentle riff showing not just the dexterity of the musicianship but also the ability to once again fuse genres from a very Latin/ flamenco style of playing to that of just pure wall of sound is the amazing divide you can expect to hear on this album. From the rolling beats to a little grindcore breakdown to a thrash attack this track encompasses it all. Needless to say a great second to closing track on this stunning hate filled album.
Track 8 Chimes comes in like a tsunami of sound it rips clean through your ears with the riffs and blastbeats pummelling your senses within an inch of their life. The breakdown moments add that extra layer of depth on here, but that tremolo midsection is just pure chef’s kiss. It tops off the ferocity on here just perfectly coupled with the lead picking out notes to mimic the Chimes of your demise. As the track fades we hear the tolling of a real bell this is the sound of the end not just of the track but your life. As fire crackles and the sound of rain patters against your window pane you are serenaded by the stunning tones of an acoustic guitar which closes this wonderfully and depressing track.
So, as I sit back finish my cigarette and scratch at my hollow yet satisfied skull, I feel a sense of achievement wash over me. When I first came across this act I listened with intent I even managed a copy on cassette but nothing prepared me until my boney fingers hit play on my rickety old Walkman. I was consumed from the inside out, it held a lot of keys for my thirst for music.
The way the tracks meld together, taking pieces from all warps in order to create this much bigger picture. As I sat one lonely day I made a post on social media as I found out that Plaguehurst had been joined into the folds of the illusive and dark Pembrokeshire Black Circle. As I sat almost gleefully at my post, a message came through saying that they’d always been apart of that very Circle. It had just taken time to add them onto the page. It all clicked it fell into place like the last piece of the puzzle. It is here that quartet had always been five. However with the Obscurity of this movement shrouded in total mystery, is there more out there? As the bleak curtain falls on another day. I now feel that more entwined within this dark spell all the acts have cast upon me. Their ability as a whole and as individuals to release such grim and gritty releases yet have the passion and the drive to stand by them makes for a whole other worldly experience.
If you haven’t already delved into this head first your missing out. Yes it’s raw yes the production can be slightly lost or even well missing, but isn’t that what we’re here for? That stripped back, raw, brutal assault that we all fell in love with. The first wave and second wave held so much promise and now there are others waiting, lurking in the shadows awaiting your pledge filled with much more mystery and horror and ready to consume every inch of your soul. So give in let Plaguehurst and the Pembrokeshire Black Circle consume your life and soul.
Hails #Foras #LordOf The Shadows.