Do you know how hard it is to review an album that one of your friends’ bands put out? You have to tread lightly, because no matter how much they’ll say you should be honest, you can’t help but find youself in a rather conflicting position. One the one hand if you praise the album too much, you might come across as a kiss-ass. And when people find out, you lose your credibility. On the other hand if you pan it, you risk jeopardizing you friendship to some degree. But if the music is fantastic, and the reader can judge your words of praise for himself, it won’t matter to them if you exaggerate or not.
When Plagues Collide‘s bassist, Bastiaan Barbieux, and I go way back so, although keeping the above in mind, I was stoked when I was asked to review their upcoming album. The self-released beast is promisingly titled Tutor of the Dying, and will be out November 1st.
The record kicks off with an ominous intro on which a plaintive chorus narrates the demise of the walking dead moaning in the background. While this already sets a dark tone, just you wait until you hear those first few nasty riffs kick in. WPC is not kidding around, and they want you to know it. Messengers of the Holy Falsehood is a behemoth of an opening track with its buzzing melodic riffs and relentless breakdowns. Frontman Wouter Dergez treats us to an impressive vocal delivery, ranging from fast and well-articulated growls to slow booming gutturals, which are well suited to breakdowns. A feat he manages to keep up throughout the entire album.
Fertilization with the Body of Men and Legion are two follow-up tracks that are perfectly in line with the first one. I am pleasantly reminded of my deathcore listening days of yore as I reminisce about Whitechapel‘s A New Era of Corruption, or even All Shall Perish‘s The Price of Existence. Dictating Violence is somehow a different story. I can’t quite put it together but the overall sound is different. I especially love the start of the song, which befits the opening of a black metal track. This track is also carried by the mighty voice of Shadow of Defeat‘s Bill Duerr. If you’re a fan of blackened deathcore à la Lorna Shore, make sure you don’t skip this track.
Let’s have a quick break with Als Imperatieve Grootmacht, a gloomy intermezzo which recounts people’s usual though understandable negative views on the concept of death and loss. Interestingly enough, it does so entirely in Dutch. We take another dive into brutality with the title track Tutor of the Dying. I may not have mentioned it before but whoever chose to add piano chords on this album is a genius. The strumming further deepens the emotion already brought to life by the guitar work. Some people, myself included, aren’t always down for symphonic elements that tend to tone down the power of death metal, but here it works.
This is further apparent on Fleshmould where piano tunes fill up the void that you sometimes get on slow breakdowns. Acrania‘s Luke Griffin chimes in on this one with his violent high pitch screams and insanely fast growls. Fleshmould perfectly transitions to Belial’s Archetype, because it seems I am suddenly circlebanging my head to brutal death metal for the second time in a row. Both tracks stand out thanks to this change of pace.
Marked for Destruction is one of the more melodic tracks, and boasts another great guest appearance by – sadly defunct – Before He Shot Her‘s Tim De Ridder (Papa Bear himself!) on vocals. The song is an excellent way to gradually mark the nearing end of the record. But not before banging my head one last time to the groovy Corpus Maleficus. And so we finally share in the sadness of Vows, the instrumental outro that closes off Tutor of the Dying.
This is more than just another deathcore album. It is plain that When Plagues Collide are talented musicians who have put their heart and soul into the making of Tutor of the Dying. I am most curious to see what they have in store for us in the future. In any case you can check them out for yourself at the Masters of Grind gig at Sint-Niklaas’ De Casino on November 3rd, alongside Aborted, Pig Destroyer, Benighted, and many more. Be sure to pick up their album at the venue. FYI, the first 100 attendees will receive a copy for free. Now that’s a bargain if ever I heard of one.
Release Date: November 1st, 2018
1. Messengers of the Holy Falsehood
2. Fertilization with the Body of Men
4. Dictating Violence
5. Als Imperatieve Grootmacht
6. Tutor of the Dying
8. Belials Archetype
9. Marked for Destruction
10. Corpus Maleficus