Artist: Plague Weaver
Album Title: Ascendant Blasphemy
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 26 February 2021
It’s funny how there are albums you’ll start listening to and you’ll think early on ‘this really isn’t my thing’ and yet, half an hour or more later, you find that you’re still listening. And, what’s more, you find that you’re quite enjoying what you’re listening to. The case in point for me is this, the debut full-length album from Canada’s Plague Weaver, entitled ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’.
For so many reasons, I should dislike this record, but I have stuck with it without realising it, hypnotised and mesmerised by the raw brutality of what’s on offer, as well as the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere that permeates from every pore. The production of this self-released affair is raw, but deliberately so if my hunch is correct. To be fair, this isn’t the kind of music that would suit a crystal clear sound; instead, it revels in the murk that is created by the lo-fi production, allowing it to add a sense of authenticity to the nightmarish sounds that are created on ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’.
Taking a step back for a moment, Plague Weaver hails from Ontario, Canada and is currently a duo, having started out as a solo project by a musician simply known as ‘RM’. A multi-instrumentalist, responsible for the guitars, bass and keyboards, RM was then joined by vocalist and lyricist JC last year and ‘Ascendent Blasphemy’ is the resultant fruit from their musical loins. It is a brutal, uncompromising affair rooted in doom metal but with as strong a vein of black metal running through its evil veins. It is cold, it is nasty, and it is grim in just about every sense. And yet…
As you become attuned to the production and to the sounds emanating from the speakers, you start to realise that ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ isn’t quite as unforgiving and impenetrable as you first thought. Yes it is malevolent, sinister and pretty horrible in places, but there’s also enough within the music to keep me interested. I’d not necessarily refer to it as melody because that’s stretching the definition towards breaking point. However, melody is used sparingly, hidden for the most part within the bowels of the compositions, but heard fleetingly within the occasional riff. Then there’s the slow lurching groove that comes from the doom elements; never overdone, but just enough to get the head nodding or the body swaying in some grotesque form of hypnotic appreciation.
The saving grace to ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ is that, at under 40 minutes in length, it isn’t too drawn out. Music of this sort is better served in small doses for maximum impact, and any longer and Plague Weaver may have lost me to insanity. But as it is, the songs and the album manage to keep my interest for the entirety, give or take the odd slight aberration along the way.
The opening riff to ‘Nothing Is Sacred’ begins to get lodged in my head before the track explodes into black metal aggression. The vocals from JC are utterly depraved; multi-layered and nasty, it sounds like he is joined by others, ushering us in unison into the underworld having crawled out of the horrific depths himself. After a handful of spins, I’m almost enjoying this.
The slow, pummelling groove that suddenly materialises in the latter stages of ‘Lay Fire’ is actually rather excellent. It comes from within what is primarily, a ferocious and raw black metal assault with plenty of fast riffs and drumming, not to mention the tortured screams from JC. I’m also a fan of the slow, mournful lead guitar lines that appear towards the end of ‘Blood Runs Not’, a track that otherwise offers some of the most ear-catching vocals whilst plundering a generally more sedate tempo.
I also like it when a touch of more delicate ambience is utilised, just to break up the extreme elements. The best example is ‘Deicidal Usurper’ that features a piano in the brief intro and moments of bass and guitar-led calm, albeit supplemented by yet more demented screams from the depths.
The remainder of the album tends to alternate between the slower, doomier material, or the all-out raw black metal assault, as the duo explore both realms with apparent equal relish. I’ll be honest, despite the run-time, and depending on your mood, ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ can either be the best tonic to this crazy world, or an arduous, difficult, and slightly painful listen. I have experienced both sides of the same coin these last few days. It is the kind of album that you’ll either like, or run at the speed of light away from. Personally, I have grown fonder of it although the jury remains out on whether it is a record I will return to much once I have completed the review. Either way, if you’re a fan of the more extreme end of the metal spectrum, I recommend you take a listen to Plague Weaver’s new offering ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’, and decide for yourself.
The Score of Much Metal: 74%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: