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Sorrow Plagues – Homecoming

Self-released

Sorrow Plagues - HomecomingThere’s a handful of genres that, arguably, benefit most from never actually changing. Hardcore (punk), for instance, hasn’t had an idea since the ’80s. Gabber was perfect from the get to. Black Metal operates in some weird space in my head where I sort of assume it hasn’t changed since, like Xasthur or whatever… but in fact there’s all sorts of micro-genres and ideas popping up. I can never entirely square how I feel about it, but basically BM’s clearly at its best when its entirely disgusting, for whatever that means (on which tip, Law Of The Rope are fucking amazing).

Sorrow Plagues, a one-man-band type affair, label themselves on their Bandcamp as lots of BM genres — atmospheric BM, depressive BM, ambient BM — but there’s more than a lot here to piss of BM purists. There’s a lot of that tremelo picking that’s just the side of post-rock: “Departure” veers so close that, if you take the hammering drums out, it’s basically late-’90s grade Mogwai b-side. “Irreversible” does a huge amount of tension and release, stretching what feels like a 4/4 into what may be a 6/4 and I can’t shake that the chord structure feels like power metal.

So what I’m getting at here is that ‘the Plagues’ (as I’m sure all young people will refer to them as) are pretty good at something like iconoclasm. Perhaps never more obviously than when there’s a really filthy sax line in the middle of “Homecoming”. Like, it’s all this BM-ish build and then suddenly you’re dropped into an ’80s porno set.

But but but — don’t let that mislead you into thinking that it’s a discontinuous rag-tag of ideas. I hate when people do that (Mike fucking Patton). What Mr Plagues seems to do on all of these tracks is to take a chordal structure and find a few variations on it — so the sax bit is another variation on the lead melody, just played in a way that’s surprising (but not quite haha incongruous). There’s a wry wit to the arrangements, such as dropping in sweep picking — if anything was anathema to BM it’s sweep picking. I can’t get it out of my head that the vocals sound a lot like William Bennett of Whitehouse, which probably says something about what Bennett could’ve been doing with his time rather than being “provocative” and “ambiguous”.

It works pretty well as atmospheric BM as well — insofar as you can leave it on a loop for a bit and sort of relax into some reading or bothering your cats or whatever it is you do with your days. A good atmosphere.

Yeah, so, summary-wise — Mr Plagues is unfortunately out in one of the lesser-known outposts of Tory seaside shambles (Worthing), so the chances are that this isn’t something you’d come across in your day-to-day, but you really should treat yourself to some nicely put together, well-recorded, considerate crushing atmospheric black metal with porno sax interstitions.

-Kev Nickells-

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