Track Premiere: Plaguewielder – “Howling Souls”

An earnest hardscrabble sound dominates Surrender to the Void, the upcoming second record by Ohio’s Plaguewielder, and first for Fragile Branch Recordings. It is the sound that authentically comes from living in the former industrial furnace of this country, its fires now mostly dead no matter what the President promises. How do I know? I’m a born and raised Ohioan.

I think of it as earned nihilism. We have good reason to expect bleakness to come —what’s come before is bleakness by and large. A similar attitude colors the best facets of black metal and sludge, though most bands that dabble in these styles can’t really conjure the authentic attitude required to sell it. Plaguewielder can, though. An abandoned pole barn can be as ominous as a NOLA cemetery or a Norwegian forest.

When Plaguewielder released their first record, Succumb to Ash, in 2015, it quickly became one of my favorite records that year, owing to guitarist/vocalist Brice Seditz’s hooky riffs, and the album’s deep sense of melancholy. Again, earned nihilism. Plaguewielder’s venomous spite accurately evoked the semi-endless winters that dominate my memories of Ohio.

In contrast, the band’s upcoming record sounds red hot, even angrier than the band has been previously. Today’s premiere, “Howling Souls” could even sound swampy were it not for its brief runtime and quick thrashy rhythm. Some of the band’s frostbitten sound seems to have been replaced with a little punk rock heat, which makes the remainder of

Of course, another thing one gets from growing up in the rust belt is sloppiness, a certain inattention to detail. After all, what good does attention to detail do you? The expected outcome of all your endeavors is a failure, anyway. As such, Plaguewileder still sounds a little rough around the edges, even with a relatively clear production and straightforward arrangement. That’s a good thing, though, it adds to the charm of this sort of music.

Pre-order Surrender to the Void here.