PLAGUE BEARER — Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation (review)

PLAGUE BEARER — Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation album cover Album · 2023 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Seattle, Washington based death metal act Plague Bearer. The album was released through Nameless Grave Records in March 2023. Plague Bearer was formed in 1992 by guitarist Kelley Kuciemb (working under the Plague Bearer pseudonym). After recording a couple of demos, the band changed their name to Drawn and Quartered, but as Drawn and Quartered became a more permanent band, Kuciemb ressurrected the Plague Bearer name, and continued the project as a side-project. A couple of more demos, an EP, and a compilation (and 31 years) later and Plague Bearer were finally able to release this debut album.

"Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation" features none of the material from the early 90s demos, but instead it features four of the tracks from the 2001 "Defiled by Sodomy" demo, all four tracks from the 2006 "Rise of the Goat" EP, and two of the tracks from the 2008 "Winds of Pestilence" demo, which have all been re-recorded and included on the album. So "Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation" is ultimately the culmination and presentation of the last 20 years of material composed by Plague Bearer in an album format (leaving out of a couple of tracks).

Stylistically this is old school blackened death metal, which could just as well have been released in the late 80s/early 90s. The earliest Morbid Angel and an artist like Absu and their ilk are valid references. There´s a dark majestic quality to the proceedings, but Plague Bearer are still quite raw and brutal. They just have a little more to them and their compositions are quite clever and intriguing for the style. The vocals are raspy black metal snarling and only occasionally death metal growling (the two vocal styles are often doubled), but the instrumental part of the music is pummeling old school death metal (played at various tempi) loaded with blistering screaming leads, and gloomy themes suiting the anti-christian/blasphemous lyrics well.

The sound production is raw, filthy, organic, and at times slightly chaotic sounding, but Plague Bearer are skilled musicians who seamlessly keep things together and deliver a powerful, savage, and intense listening experience. "Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation" is upon conclusion a good quality debut album, but it´s not a release presenting the listener with anything they haven´t heard before. A few more memorable moments during the tracks and maybe a little more variation between tracks could have made the listening experience more rewarding, but as it is a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.
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