Plebeian Grandstand
Lowgazers

The whole orthodox black metal scene has gotten to a point where individual bands are nearly indistinguishable from one another, but despite that, I don’t think I’ve ever really heard anyone imitate the ones who started all this shit in the first place, Deathspell Omega… until now. Enter Plebeian Grandstand. Filled with immense, searing rage, their 2014 effort Lowgazers is a frightening blend of chaotic sludge and black metal that has somehow oddly turned out to be the closest anyone has ever gotten to mimicking the angular, dissonant melodicisms of Paracletus.

It starts off with “Thrvst”, which is no doubt the most intense on the record; every single riff on it is simply incredible, striking a perfect balance between frenetic blasting and desolate sludge dirges. Granted, there are a few sections on the album (the latter half of “Endless Craving”, for example) that lean more towards the mechanical arrangements of Abigor, but the writhing, ever-shifting time signatures of “Lowlifer” and scalding tremolos of “Aimless Roaming” are tell-tale signs of guitarist Simon’s influences. Along the way, Lowgazers hits a couple of snags – “Relief of Troth” is two minutes of ambience, which didn’t really seem necessary, and it doesn’t help that it’s followed by the rather aimless “Svn in Your Head”, which is the sludgiest song on the record, but the lack of balance makes for a rather dull result – but the last two tracks easily make up for it, rounding out the album with yet more vicious black metal riffing.

What separates Plebeian Grandstand from Deathspell Omega is that they possess an undiluted fury that the latter, constantly caught up in their pseudo-intellectual ramblings on religion, never quite got to unleash. A lot of it is thanks to the blistering howls of Adrian, which are a far better fit for this type of music than Mikko Aspa ever was. (I’ve never liked the guy’s piggish grunt, so it’s refreshing to hear someone else over this kind of music.) Together with the intricately crafted drum patterns of Ivo – reminiscent of Jamie Saint Merat of Ulcerate due to the velocity at which they are played – and the claustrophobic, crushing production, not a single of ounce of animosity is wasted on this record.

All in all, Lowgazers is a far cry from the band’s equally aggressive but less refined hardcore beginnings. “Paracletus 2.0” might be a crude description, but it’s not an inaccurate one. It’s funny because Plebeian Grandstand are anything but orthodox black metal, so if you’re like me and enjoy Paracletus despite thinking that most orthodox is at best derivative (and at worst absolute garbage), then do yourself a favour and give Lowgazers a listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Joseph Y
January 23rd, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: glimmerfunnel

    I hear Ulcerate in the guitars way more than in the drumming. Based on “Thvrst” alone, this isn’t nearly as complex or variedas DsO, but I totally liked what I heard and will be exploring more from this band ASAP. Thanks for the review!


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