Putting your best foot forward is always an indication of what a band wants to do when it comes to a record. So when the opening track of a new release is able to put every element of the band’s music into a nice little package and entice you towards the follow-ups, it can be a great sign. This is exactly what Plague Years do on their new record Circle of Darkness. Opening track ‘Play the Victim’ introduces chugging riffs, dive bombs and gut ripping vocals from the thrash band and it just gets harder and heavier from the outset. In a market such as thrash that has become increasingly saturated, it takes a lot for a band in the crossover thrash world to stand out from the crowd. Some bands in the scene are taking reference from the likes of Power Trip, or carving their own path like Ekulu: Plague Years sit somewhere in between the two.
What makes the Detroit outfit stand out from the crowd is the pure ferocious nature of their music. Right from the off the quintet are relentless and they don’t show signs of coming up for air at any point. The title track in parts sounds like a speed metal song at the sheer pace the drums are being hit, but it doesn’t come across cheesy, rather a display of the raw intensity that this record has been built on. But it isn’t all breakneck drum beats and flashy riffs, as the next cut ‘Evil One’ showcases a lot of groove to their songs and almost follows a straight rhythm, giving a more traditional thrash sound. Plague Years aren’t afraid to pay homage to bands like Iron Age and Obituary who have clearly walked so this current crop of bands can run.
It may be fair to say that Plague Years have certainly not reinvented the wheel with Circle of Darkness, but what they have done is burnt all the rubber off it and left a trail of smoke behind them. It goes to show that if you put together great riffs, reverb drenched vocals and a pummeling drumbeat you are going to be off to a winning start, and to then add creative and insanely bonkers aspects offers up one hell of an enjoyable ride.
Circle of Darkness is out September 18th via eOne Heavy and can be ordered here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck