PLAGUE BRINGER
"As the Ghosts Collect, The Corpses Rest"

(Seventh Rule Recordings)

01. Burn Ward Whore
02. Hope And Slow Murder
03. No Such Nothing
04. Halo Trauma
05. The Somnambulist
06. Splinters Through A Straw
07. Impaled Faith

RATING: 7.5/10

Speedier than GODFLESH, yet not as frantic as PIG DESTROYER, Chicago's two-man programmed blitzkrieg machine, PLAGUE BRINGER, dishes out wave after wave of bulldozer riffs and jackhammer rhythms. Probably better described as mechanized death metal than frenetic grindcore, the riffs are fat, the blasting sadistic, and the screeching of Josh Rosenthal (accented with the death growls of, I would assume, guitarist/programmer Greg Ratajczak) blood thirsty and maniacal.

Rather than mere noise and chaos, there is a definite rhyme and a reason to these arrangements, the duo somehow able to maintain a restless grindcore vibe with song structures that actually go somewhere, albeit in a MINISTRY-on-meth kind of way. Though what is heard is largely the sheer ferociousness of Ratajczak's riff bludgeoning and the extreme crush of the drum programming, light electronics serve to put a chill into the arrangements. The riffing on "Burn Ward Whore" (song title of the year?) may melt flesh, yet is also composed in such as a way as to inject slivers of melody and appealing nuance into the mix. The clean picking lulling one into a false sense of security on "No Such Nothing" ultimately gives way to more machine gun bursts and shrapnel blasts. And still the duo incorporates tempo breaks and chunkiness in just the right place. The song is but one example of an album that no one would ever claim to be easy on the central nervous system, and yet the songs are not simply mindless exercises in purposeful annoyance (though you may want to ask the neighbors about that after they've endured the album a few times).

Of course, "As the Ghosts Collect, The Corpses Rest" would be nothing without the apocalyptic vibes and constant sense of danger one feels while being beaten bloody by this soundtrack to man's ultimate demise. The boys seem to possess that indefinable "it," and I have a feeling that we have not even begun to experience this band's true potential for sheer audio terror.

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