Winds of Plague
The Great Stone War

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Winds of Plague have become one of the poster children for modern American metal. And to be honest I rather enjoyed their 2005 debut, A Cold Day in Hell, (which at the time was pretty fresh sounding) and the 2008 Century Media debut, Decimate the Weak. I also enjoyed the cell phone pics that surfaced on the internet of keyboardist Kristen Randall, but I digress.

The thing is, the band’s mix of Dimmu Borgir styled synths and deathcore seems a little gimmicky and forced now, even with a conceptual backdrop, the band come across as Hot Topic bubblegum metal for the teenage masses, willing to consume anything that has metal and keyboards- see Bleeding Through, The Devil Wears Prada and Abigail Williams. And personally, (and this is huge assumption on my part) since Decimate the Weak, the band comes across as rock star, scenester trendwhores.

That’s not to say The Great Stone War isn’t a band album, but where Decimate the Weak had 4 excellent songs reworked from the bands 2004 debut, back when the band was hungry and before the band became stars, The Great Stone War has to stand on its own merits, and the band’s weaknesses as actual songwriters beyond synth flocked breakdowns becomes readily apparent. That being said, if you enjoy what amounts to deathcore/metalcore littered with dramatic synth glossed breakdowns, you’ll enjoy this album.

I can’t lie, there are a few decent moments on the album, but those are generally blackish keyboard tinkling or the aforementioned orchestral breakdowns such as the 2:56 mark of “Soldiers of Doomsday”, the end of “Approach the Podium”, standout “Chest and Horns” or “Our Requiem” , that sound pretty epic thank to the Daniel Castleman (As I Lay Dying, Impending Doom, War of Ages, Zao) and Tue Madsen (Aborted, Heaven Shall Burn, etc) mix/mastering effort. That being said, when the title track rolls around you begin to think you may have heard that particular crumbling breakdown/synth break already. However, the rest of the material which simply culls from Euro styled melodeath and lurching hardcore tinged death metal is purely filler. Quite simply, if you took the synths away from Winds of Plague they would be an incredibly average deathcore/metalcore band and Jon Cooke’ mix of forced growls and hardcore shouts don’t help.

The thing is, despite all that negative stuff, I’m a little torn on this album. I actually enjoy the allure of the band’s aforementioned better moments. I like heavy rumbling breakdowns and I like regal, majestic symphonics, so on some level The Great Stone War actually gets some attention from me. It’s just a pity the band chooses to pander themselves to the Hot Topic crowd and fill the rest of the album with contrived, forgetful clichés that negate the postitives.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
August 24th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Biff Tannen
  2. Commented by: vugelnox

    Erik I enjoy your always thoughtful and well-written reviews of this stuff but all the same I’d rather eat a pound of sand then listen to this.


  3. Commented by: LongDeadGod

    I couldn’t handle this band when i saw them live, all the mowhawks, and brooootal breakdowns. i’m so sick of open chord chugs its rediculous.


  4. Commented by: stilllife666

    Glad I read this review. I’ll totally never check out the band, but you can damn sure bet that I Googled that keyboard players topless pic as soon as I read the opening paragraph, and for that sir, I thank you.


  5. Commented by: Desperado

    Haha she’s kinda skanky lookin though with a manish body.I’ll stick to my latina mamasita thank you kindly though.Good review,honest and to the point.This is a tough album for sure.It’ll be interesting to see what happens to all these trendy bands in a few years once the umpteenth breakdown has chugged the mobs brain to mulch and they start looking for something new.Hell,Attack!Attack! even changed their music video of Stick Stickly(oh dear god the humanity!!)due to metal forums getting hold of the original and laughing/spamming youtube till the took it down.Huh.All I can do is sigh in exhaustion over this tired heartless state of affairs.


  6. Commented by: Dan

    I hate this band so much it’s unbelievable. They represent almost none of the qualities that attracted me to metal in the first place. I was in the front row when I saw them on the last night of Summer Slaughter. I put in my ear plugs and stared at the floor the whole time.


  7. Commented by: Dan

    I DON’T EVEN HATE BREAKDOWNS THAT MUCH BUT THEY HAVE THE MOST BORING BREAKDOWNS IN HISTORY!!! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO STOP THE DOUCHERY!!!


  8. Commented by: Vance

    Not sure why I need to chime in, since all you guys and gals have already said it, but this stuff is awful, Johnny Plague? come on they remind me of a cross between Avenged Sevenfold and Dimmu Borgir… Anyways, I think the image they project really hurts them and I hate to be so shallow, but you know sometimes I just cant get over it, get rid of that poser tough guy wanna be hip hop star singer and I might give them another chance and lose the stupid F’ing sideways cap.


  9. Commented by: Tom

    I also agree that this band is fucking terrible.


  10. Commented by: krustster

    Good review. I liked the first two albums too, but this one just sounds like they ran out of ideas or something. There were a couple times (can’t remember the song names) where there were some guitar melodies that just sounded completely awful and unnatural. And yet, there were a few glimpses of greatness. I had high hopes for this one considering how most death-core bands are stepping up their game in 2009 but I guess WoP weren’t up to the challenge. :((((


  11. Commented by: Dave

    Echoing a comment above, I will thank you for this review in that it led me to track down the keyboard player’s naughty cell phone pics.


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