Winds of Plague

The Great Stone War

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2008's Decimate the Weak kicked open the door for Upland, CA-based metal outfit Winds of Plague with its European-flavored blend of symphonic black metal and metalcore -- the band's penchant for the guttural and cinematic drew favorable comparisons to stalwart Scandinavian heavyweights like In Flames and Dark Tranquility. The group's sophomore effort improves on Decimate the Weak's breakneck yet inventive musicality by finding a more cohesive balance between the guitars and keyboards, resulting in a single beast rather than a misfit herd. Bookended by a pair of semi-apocalyptic spoken word pieces that do little to diffuse the notion that most current metal albums were written in the midst of watching a nine-hour Lord of the Rings marathon, Great Stone War proves that West Coast metal is alive and well, and that in the right hands, it can be a thing of terrible, violent beauty.

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