Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sorrow Plagues - Self-Titled (2016)

A project from the David Lovejoy, this UK based experimental depressive and melodic black metal project comes off like something a little different. Intended to be catharsis, the melodies seem to counteract his anger and are sometimes “too pretty” for their own good. There's also a piece by the name of “Awaken” that makes me think of the music that plays at the start of a J-Pop song that comes right at the end of a visual novel. Yet there's also a metallic part there as with any other cut on the disc, which only have one drawback – they're all essentially the same piece. We get blasting drums, depressing synths, scowling vocals and maybe what sounds like a guitar in the background? The synths are far higher in the mix than virtually any other instrument sans the drums, which makes me think that Sorrow Plagues doesn't even need a guitar save for the occasional solo. If anything, Sorrow Plagues is showing us how you can make a metal album without the need of a guitar at all. Some of these “riffs” are even effects, so there's as much electronic influence here as there is symphonic. It sounds like it could play during the really powerful scenes in Umineko. I'm getting the same kind of impact from the synths here that I did while reading that, and if that's the kind of sorrow that he wanted to go for, then he's hit it as there are few things in the world that will make your bawl like a child then to hear some of Ryu07's sorrowful pieces. It certainly benefits the disc to say that it is beautiful in a melancholic sort of way and maybe this review will inspire Lovejoy to listen to some of the compositions I've talked about in Umineko, Higurashi or other visual novel pieces.

The record also has several moments in which an atmosphere is achieved without the use of metal, especially near the end of “Redemption.” While it also reminds me of a truly powerful Japanese piece, (does this guy even realize he's making this kind of music?) I think that the vocals on the very end of the track just aren't needed. There is already a lengthy atmosphere utilized with synths and electronics, where we're later serenaded by some powerful guitar melodies (which also sound like the kind you'd hear from Japanese melodic metal acts) and at that point, it probably would have been better to leave that part of the song alone. It worked as a strong breakdown and what was needed to be said, should have been said before the long break. Sorrow Plagues is a rather difficult album to completely describe, as sometimes it wants to focus on guitar melodies, and others would have the guitars completely reduced to the background by the synths. The vocals are just kind of there. I really hate to say it, but they don't provide half as much intrigue as the rest of the package here, other than the fact of it being “Rah! Rah!” black metal. The blasts and the scowls are just a bit overused, with no real rhyme or reason. I understand what he's going for, but perhaps a little more than just blasts would suffice in the drum department. It's powerfully melodic and tear-jerking enough to move you for sure, but there's still a lot of work to be done here. Three EP's proceeded this record, but it's still a debut full-length and by no means a final exam. Lovejoy is young and he'll get better if he sticks with it. Still, I never thought that anything would remind me of some of the saddest music I've ever heard in my life, so that's saying something. On the plus side, at least Lovejoy decided not to howl like some kind of brain-dead werewolf, an approach that I'm more than tired of hearing from various depressive black metal artists. That's just enough for me to recommend it to you.

(7 Tracks, 40:00)


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