Every now and again, I chuckle (seethe?) about the rigid restrictions so many people would like to place on black metal. According to some, this style of music always should follow the guidelines established by the Second Wave, and anyone who deviates from the course is not true, not kvlt, not real. Eh, whatever.
Doing so would have robbed the world of so many forward-thinking bands that pushed the boundaries of the style (you realize Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, and groups of that ilk wouldn’t exist under these rules, right?), and we’d be treading water with a million bands trying to ape the same template. Actually, we have that now even with such diversity in the black metal realm. It also would prevent a band such as Sorrow Plagues from creating incredible sounds using black metal as a base, and that would be a damn shame. Luckily, many people don’t care about the rules and are more interested to hear where bands can take this sound, and this project certainly qualifies as one not interested in the status quo.
Actually, the term “band” isn’t entirely accurate, as Sorrow Plagues is the work of one man, English musician David Lovejoy (who handles all instruments and vocals). His brand of black metal is wholly atmospheric, awash in sounds and noise scapes, and undeniably emotional. What he creates on this project’s second EP “An Eternity of Solitude” could grab your aching heart and force it to feel something, whatever emotion that might be, and much of the music on this 5-cut collection feels like it walked out of a misty, rain-soaked forest, returning to life to recount the tales on what went on inside that place. The mission would be to carry on those threads to the rest of the world.
“Corroding Evil” starts the trip, with sounds coming in like a major storm front and melodies washing over everything. The vocals are obscured here, as they are through much of this collection, feeling like a voice in the darkness seeking a hand. Synth bleeds into the song, with the guitars returning to chugging, the melodies building back up and filling the soul, and then all elements quietly fading away. The title cut starts with plinking keys, before the song tears open and blood rushes forth. The main line runs into moody keys, giving a gothic feel, and an ambiance that feels like you’re being washed away by a cold rain. The guitars then light up again, creating an energy surge, before everything is snuffed out abruptly. “Failure” has glimmering synth that starts, making you want to shield your eyes, but then it’s into a cascade of power, wrenching growls, and drums that are clubbed (with all of these elements glazed in sound haze). The last part of the song fills up the scene again with elevated emotion and playing that feels like it means everything in the world.
“The Depths of Emptiness” unfurls a dark fog, with sounds hanging in the humid air, and hisses and growls again buried underneath all of the chaos. There are some cleaner guitar lines woven into this song, adding an element of somber calm to what’s happening here, and the track eventually lands in a sea of tranquility, where it sinks to the bottom. Closer “Acceptance” has keys bubbling at the surface, with the guitars later cutting through and letting the damage take hold. The vocals here actually burn over the melodies, taking the forefront for a rare instance, but eventually they’re overtaken by the lead guitar work, that grabs you by the arm and drags you under the water. The track’s life form keeps growing and expanding, picking up new elements and energy sources as it builds and overwhelms you. But just when it seems like it’ll destroy you with a tidal wave, everything gets enveloped and sent back out to sea. It feels sudden, but it’s the ending you should have seen coming all along.
With just a little over a year under his belt and two really strong EPs, Lovejoy really seems to have a handle on what he projects for Sorrow Plagues, as well as an excellent execution plan. “An Eternity of Solitude” is a gushing, dark, dramatic trip that you won’t mind taking over and over, because each time you’ll discover something new. I’m excited about this project’s future and what Lovejoy can do with a full-length effort.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/sorrowplaguesmetal
To buy the album, go here: http://sorrowplagues.bandcamp.com/