Winds of Plague - _Against the World_
(Century Media, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (3 out of 10)
E-mail sent to my fiancé: "Hey honey, hopefully your day is going better than yesterday. I may have found the most bro-ed out deathcore of 2011. Dinner is in the oven for you. I'm off to weight-lift to this new album."

Metal is not without its share of ridiculous cartoons. A common misconception regarding heavy metal is that it consists entirely of ridiculous cartoons. If you still hold that sentiment, you may need to start listening to something else. An "over the top" attitude regarding masculinity and optimism has lent itself to some great acts (see Manowar). But what happens when that same attitude goes above and beyond what is required? Californian Winds of Plague has made their entrance into the metal world the same way the dominant male beats the ground for recognition among the pack. This deathcore act has traveled so far beyond the top, their albums reside in dimensions which few are able to mentally grasp. _Against the World_ is the band's fourth album, which could either be the most hilarious album of the year or the most bizarre satire on testosterone influenced heavy metal ever created.

It is important to note that I enjoyed this album in the same way I enjoy a lot of action movies -- specifically starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude van Damme. _Against the World_ is not an uninteresting album, nor without its enjoyable pleasures; it's just the "Commando", "Under Siege 2" and "Hard Target" of the metal world. And just like its cinema equivalent, _Against the World_ has created some wonderful one-liners. As the opening of "Refined in Fire" clearly states: "I walk this Earth / Alone with broken bones / I fear no evil / (chant) Evil fucking fears me!" Bravo, gentlemen. I have no idea what I'm supposed to take from that, but bravo.

One of the main criticisms of Winds of Plague, besides the pseudo masculinity, is the directionless thematic elements which confuse the foundation of this record. Perhaps this cauldron of cultural elements speaks to a larger audience of vapid teenager consumers, but its intensity takes away all intelligent reasoning and replaces it with bags of Doritos. Starting with deathcore, the band adds symphonic elements, conservative fear mongering, hip hop posturing, eighth grade gothic antics and layers of hot headed angst into a cacophony of masculine nonsense.

_Against the World_ further complicates this mess by adding in guest appearances by Jaesta from Hatebreed, Martin Stewart from Terror and a spoken work track by retired WWF wrestler The Ultimate Warrior. I'm going to stop here and explain that while it is much easier to dismiss professional wrestling as a ridiculous farce, I have very high regards for the profession and its actors. Winds of Plague, though, degrades wrestling further, giving The Ultimate Warrior the chance to not only speak but to motivate. The question should never be "where do we put this spoken word track by The Ultimate Warrior with faux Asian music?", rather the question should be "should we have a spoken word track by The Ultimate Warrior with faux Asian music?" Winds of Plague's ultimate ignorance to this very rudimentary question is at the base of a larger problem with fewer solutions.

"The Only Song We Are Allowed to Play at Church Venues" is a short melodic death instrumental with an unfortunate title. The track is brilliant in its execution, in creating an interesting melody in the short allotted time. It is the album's highlight, as it is instrumental and does not allow the band to speak. This becomes more evident as the follow-up "California" starts out with: "Look whose [sic] back motherfucker / Winds of Plague! / Still running shit / Still on top / Hailing from the west coast / The motherfucking best coast / Hands up reach for sky / Do what I say or let the bullets fly". If reading the above sentence gives you stomach cramps, imagine the sound of my laughter filled as I roll on the ground.

I would love a chance to follow Winds of Plague around for a day. I can surmise their apartment is filled with samurai swords, inspirational sports movies from the '80s, and a mélange of MMA and bikini Ferrari posters. They probably have a sports bike parked in the space out front with multiple speeding tickets to its name. There may also be sparse free weights, grime around the tub and a kitchen covered in pizza grease and Creatine powder. This heavy handed stereotyping is only in reaction to the band's clear thesis of domination and self preservation through all manner of strife. I did not have to stretch to propose the above image, as the band sells the record much like a late night infomercial. As wide as a linebacker and a deep as a Chuck Lidell cardboard cutout, _Against the World_ is the answer to a world plagued with creative thinking.

(article published 15/5/2011)


ALBUMS
1/4/2010 J Smit 8 Winds of Plague - The Great Stone War
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