- The Pretentious And The Deceived
- Present Chaos
- Sinking Higher
The North-East has been a cradle of musical talent through the years and it is no surprise that the country’s heavy metal circuit too has benefited from this region’s huge love for the genre. Shillong, especially, has given birth to some very good musicians and this would include the veteran death metal trio Plague Throat.
As with most heavy metal hubs in the country, Shillong too is demarcated by a thin line separating the two schools of metal, viz. Old School and New School. The almost fanatical support demonstrated by the disciples of these metal philosophies can be alarming – yet the dedication of these musicians towards their music also shines through due to their rigid disposition.Many old school metal bands of the country take pride in being underground and not succumbing to the evils of “commercialization” – Plague Throat seems to have gone down this path as well. And while they have made a name for themselves in the live music circuit, both in the North-East and in other parts of the country, with their no frills, no nonsense death metal, unfortunately there has been a down side to Plague Throat’s decision to remain predominantly underground. And proof of this is no better reflected than in their debut EP An Exordium To Contagion.
Despite having been in existence for the better part of 7 years, Plague Throat’s decision to bring out an EP instead of a full-fledged album as their debut release is nothing short of strange. Add to this, the fact that 3 of the 4 tracks listed on this EP had already been released independently and were in mass circulation on the internet, makes you wonder whether the band are actually taking their underground status a bit too seriously. It does not bode well for either their fans or followers of death metal if a veteran death metal act has only 4 tracks to offer after being in the circuit for seven years.
Luckily An Exordium To Contagion does not disappoint musically and the years of hard-edged experience garnered by the band is well projected in their musical efforts. As mentioned earlier, Plague Throat’s debut release is a collection of just 4 originals and hence the entire duration of the EP spans approximately 15 minutes. But those 15 minutes are as solid, as brutal and as gut-busting as anything you might be able to get your hands on in the Indian death metal market. Indeed, the recording and mixing has been handled pretty well – and credit must also be given to The Doom Cave (operated by Srikant Panaman from Bangalore’s iconic Bevar Sea) who was responsible for the EP’s mastering. The only drawbacks here would be the over-the-top bass heavy feel to the songs, and the fact that the vocals are inaudible at times. Granted, most of the vocals are a combination of high-pitched shrieks and deep-throated growls – still, the clarity of vocals is a requirement for any good death metal track, and this is not always something that is present on the EP. Another element that most lovers of heavy metal will fail to overlook is the fact that the drumming was programmed – something that is a bit hard to understand considering that the band’s drummer Malice is considered to be a very capable musician.
The EP opens with the track ‘The Pretentious And The Deceived’ and guitarist Nangsan and bassist Iaidon both weave an intricate web of rhythmic riffs coupled with slow elements of doom. And in between the blast beats the song descends into moments of madness where breakdowns add a level of craziness to the track. It is a masterly composition and is a great EP opener.
On the second track ‘Burn’ the drumming and riffing goes on at a frenetic pace and there is no letdown for the headbanger in you. The tempo does slacken in between, but Nangsan’s guttural vocals ensnares the listener and ensures that you are trapped in the rhythm of the song. Much of the same is on offer for the third track ‘Present Chaos‘ which begins at a frenetic pace as well. There are sections in the song where the breakdowns give it a technical death feel, however the pace is soon picked up and the band thrashes away on this ditty, rendering some very in-your-face blasting moments. The riffs on this song are truly impressive and they keep on playing in your head even after the song has long stopped playing.
Plague Throat’s EP ends with the fourth track ‘Sinking Higher‘. This track starts at a much slower pace than the previous three and the number of variations and progressions on offer actually make you feel like the band is trying too hard to experiment with too many musical complexities, and somewhere the focus of the song is lost. Not to say that ‘Sinking Higher‘ does not have its moments – but probably it would have been nice to have kept this composition straight and simple, much like the previous tracks.
For those who are not familiar with Plague Throat’s music, An ExordiumTo Contagion is a great introduction to the band and it makes this an EP worth listening to. The band without a doubt is a great ambassador for death metal in India – and although the EP has its technical and production flaws, yet overall the brutality and sheer ferocity of the band’s music is reflected beautifully on their debut release. However, for those already savvy to the Plague Throat sound, this 4-track compilation is nothing short of a disappointment. After being in the circuit for 7 long years and having made a name for themselves as a monster stage-act, an EP is definitely a poor return from these metallers from Meghalaya. Indeed, Plague Throat’s fans would have expected a lot more from the band.So it goes without saying that their future endeavors will be watched eagerly by both members of their existing fan-base and by connoisseurs of the death metal genre. Plague Throat is capable of delivering much more – An Exordium To Contagion is a must listen for death metal lovers and although it would have whetted the appetite of most listeners, it still leaves you with that hollow feeling in your tummy – the feeling that you want more even though you aren’t really hungry.