Against the World
01. Raise the Dead
02. One for the Butcher
03. Drop the Match
04. Built for War
05. Refined in the Fire
06. The Warrior Code
07. Against the World
09. Most Hated
10. Only Song We’re Allowed to Play In Church
12. Strength to Dominate
Let me preface this review by saying that I think Winds of Plague‘s last album The Great Stone War is a masterpiece. If you take away all your preconceptions of the band and the genre, it’s a very unique and epic concept album with good songwriting and lyrics. Their previous effort, Decimate the Weak, while overall boring and kind of embarrassing to listen to because of the whole ‘bro act’ of the band and the constant slow breakdowns, is also a listenable guilty pleasure for me. Yes, the band members look like total douches in their wifebeaters, there are many breakdowns, but the songwriting of the band is very solid when they avoid the genre’s tropes. The Great Stone War was shunned by the bro fans of the band who preferred the breakdown-ridden earlier effort, so the band had declared that they will be going back to their roots on Against the World. So, how does it sound?
Not half bad, actually. Yes, the guitar playing is simple, but forget about that for a moment. The production is good, and the keyboards make the music amazing. I don’t know if there’s a whole ‘bro war’ concept to this album or something, because some song titles are really stupid, and if you value your brain cells, you’d do yourself a favor if you ignored at least half of the lyrics. However, I think Winds of Plague have ‘perfected’ their style in this album, and while that’s not necessarily a good thing since their style is ‘above average hardcore with epic symphonic keyboards’, that’s what you get. To be honest, I quite like it. It’s nowhere near brilliant as TGSW, but it’s better than most other average hardcore/deathcore bands. Yes, there are better bands out there, but that doesn’t mean Winds of Plague are terrible. Let me elaborate.
The album opens with “Raise the Dead”, a very eerie intro that starts with kids chanting, and then it goes into epic keyboards reminiscent of TGSW, while the rest of the band sounds more like DTW. That’s the overall theme of the album, take Decimate the Weak , add the epic keyboards from TGSW and take some of the improved riffing from that album, and refine it. I actually like the first few tracks; “One for the Butcher” starts off as a very hardcore song, amplified in its second half by the epic antics of the band. Similarly, “Drop the Match” (which has a stupid title) starts off a bit lame with the “Here we go! Here we go!”, but it’s pretty epic and headbang-worthy. “Built for War” is ridiculously epic, and is again a perfect mix of their previous two albums. I’d prefer a “Great Stone War 2” sound from the band honestly, but this works too, even if it’s a little disappointing. “Monsters”, “Most Hated” and “Strength to Dominate” are also very solid tracks, while “The Warrior Code” is a ridiculously ham-fisted interlude with Japanese style instrumentals and a ridiculously hardcore set of tenets is recited by someone who sounds like they eat pro wrestlers for breakfast. The title track isn’t that great, but it’s not terrible either. It’s just bland. Interestingly enough, “Only Song…” has an incredibly bad title, but is a really good instrumental track, something that you wouldn’t expect from this band. Overall, there are many moments of melodic, epic brilliance that shine through the facade of the ‘badass pit ninja’ music. The ambience some of the songs construct is very powerful and pleasantly surprising.
Now, let me warn you: This is overall a “Turn off your brain and just enjoy” album, it’s no techy mindblow-fest, but it’s quite appealing in its own way. It’s not just a string of terrible breakdowns like the recent Emmure album, and it sounds pretty good overall. The breakdowns aren’t drawn out and terrible like in DTW, and most of the riffs sound like they at least tried to write something unique (nothing too complicated or fancy, but not mind-numbingly unoriginal). If you’re a fan of oldschool Biohazard-style hardcore, this should please you, but at times the band reminds you how stupid and bro they can get with tracks like “California”, which is outright terrible
There is no other band like Winds of Plague; combining the sheer stupidity of ultra-bro hardcore with epic symphony. The songs are quite catchy, and I found myself murmuring vocal lines or melodies to myself hours after I stopped listening. Against the World isn’t the smartest, techiest album around, but it has its own unique sound; a great melding of old school hardcore and epic movie music (it’s the perfect soundtrack to the movie 300). It’s bound to piss off a lot of people because of this, and the band in general has a terrible reputation, but if you look past beyond that, it’s a very enjoyable album. Without the keyboards it would be a pretty basic hardcore album that is barely tolerable, but the keyboards make it actually kind of worthy.
It gets you pumped, it’s memorable, and the sound of the band is unique enough that you should at least check it out. Not their best album, but has its moments. If you’ve liked both of their previous albums, and you can take some cheese with your music, you should definitely consider Against the World. This is probably the only positive review written by a non-bro you can find online though. Haters gonna hate.
Winds of Plague’s Against the World gets: