Winds Of Plague
The Great Stone War


3.0
good

Review

by TheGrizz27 USER (3 Reviews)
August 17th, 2009 | 109 replies | 17,655 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A definite improvement and possibly a sign of good things to come...if you're not a fan of breakdowns or epic keyboards, run for the hills

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

The newest offering from California’s Winds of Plague, “The Great Stone War”, is a pleasant surprise consisting of a well-balanced blend of the better aspects of their previous work and novel details that make this a step up from its predecessor. “The Great Stone War” is a concept album telling the narrative of the characters and situations leading up to an apocalyptic battle which changes the Earth forever. In keeping with concept album tradition, this album is book-ended with a spoken-word intro and outro which serve to introduce and summarize the tale, respectively. Now before our expectations overreach reality, let’s remember Winds of Plague have yet to establish themselves as master musical storytellers (like Mastodon)…

Musically, “The Great Stone War” is a healthy improvement over their previous album “Decimate the Weak”. Although “Decimate the Weak” was a powerful and reputation-establishing album, it suffered from one-dimensional breakdowns and strong structures, and more importantly, awkward, misplaced keyboards. I’m happy to say that these detractors have been remedied to a certain degree on this album.

First of all, the breakdowns…a quick read over many Metal album reviews on this site demonstrates a general hatred for any type of breakdown. I personally like breakdowns and believe they serve as a physical catalyst during live performances. Some may be pleased upon listening to “The Great Stone War” due to the high amount of variability in the breakdowns sprinkled throughout the album. One unique feature of Winds of Plague is that the breakdowns, even those which are fairly generic, are embellished by keyboards. Also, the breakdowns on “The Great Stone War” are lifted by a new emphasis on time shifts and tempo changes within the breakdowns (versus the chug-chug nature of most the breakdowns on “Decimate the Weak”). This certainly makes for a more interesting listen. Unfortunately, one downside of the high frequency of breakdowns is that some are, in fact, monotonous and quite boring (most occur at the end of songs such as “Forged in Fire”, “Approach the Podium”, and the title track). For the purists who are dismissing this album immediately, it should be noted that this album does feature a couple decent solos which fit nicely into the structure of the songs (“Battle Scars” and “Our Requiem”). Overall, the guitar and bass work on this album are a step up from “Decimate the Weak” due to the diversity of their delivery and the added flair of the keyboards keeps them from becoming stale.

The keyboards on this album may be the biggest improvement of “The Great Stone War”. First of all, they add the symphonic, epic sound required of a bold concept album modeled upon large-scale battles (the band makes no attempts to mask the Lord of the Rings references, especially in the artwork). Apart from setting the mood of the album, the keys are more appropriately used as compared with “Decimate the Weak”. Interestingly, upon close listen, you’ll find the keys persist through most of the tracks. They aren’t being used every once in awhile in a forced, awkward way (as was the case with “Decimate the Weak”) but exist as a separate part of the composition. They are also subdued enough not to be irritating or pretentious.

Lyrically, this album falls right in the middle of really good and really bad. Unfortunately, singing about an ancient, hand-to-hand battle in 2009 is going to sound slightly cheesy. No earth-shattering philosophical issues and clever lyrics are to be found here (for that, go listen to Clutch) but the narrative style of the album is interesting in and of itself. I commend Winds of Plague for not being repetitive and telling the story in a narrative fashion and using some “big” words like “ineluctable”, “vestals”, and “mammoths”. In terms of actual delivery, I must side with the unpopular notion that Johnny Plague is not that bad of a vocalist. His vocals are essentially in the hardcore vein and are slightly intelligible. Sure, he doesn’t have the low to high range of, say, Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence but he gets the job done and his style suits the intended mood of the album.

The biggest disappointment, musically, on “The Great Stone War” is the drumming. This doesn’t mean the drums are bad, they just detract from the album overall. The reason for this is that 1.) they sound essentially the same in every song, 2.) the double-bass is unrelenting, taking away from changes of pace within the whole composition, and 3.) the overall performance is not on par with the other instruments. The relentless nature of the double bass is extremely evident in the more groove-laden verse sections (“Forged in Fire”, “The Great Stone War”) and the flowing symphonic sections (“Classic Struggle”). The drums are ubiquitous at all moments on “The Great Stone War”, and not in a good “Brann Dailor of Mastodon” kind of way.

In summary, “The Great Stone War” is an improvement and an encouraging trajectory for Winds of Plague. It is important when listening to this album and when approaching it to remember this is Winds of Plague, not Opeth. Apart from the drumming, all aspects of this album show a marked improvement over their previous output. Plus, this album and all advertising associated with it doesn’t present itself as an elitist’s wet dream, so if you’re down for some symphonic, epic metal chock-full of mostly non-generic breakdowns and aggressive vocals, definitely check out “The Great Stone War”.


user ratings (291)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Steven Spedding (2)
Lord of The Rings-esque deathcore that fails to impress....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Burnyourface
August 17th 2009



223 Comments


Nice review, glad to hear that the've improved some, the musicianship was there on Decimate, but the songwriting wasn't, and the keyboards were mostly a gimick as well, its also nice to see a more objective rating for a metalcore band with (god forbid)..... breakdowns.

cvlts
August 17th 2009



8917 Comments


this is very well written first review.

keep it up.

Digging: As Cities Burn - Come Now Sleep

Nocturnal
August 17th 2009



1182 Comments


I like the review but I disagree, Decimate the Weak was way better then this.

Digging: The Contortionist - Exoplanet

Roach
August 17th 2009



2149 Comments


its also nice to see a more objective rating for a metalcore band with (god forbid)..... breakdowns.


You're an idiot.


Zip
August 18th 2009



5313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Is that even from this reivew?

IVINDESTROYER
August 18th 2009



17 Comments


good review! i rather enjoyed their first cd but wtf is wrong with the band doing a rap like video? idk but i'll check this cd out!

jfac123
August 19th 2009



31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

huge step up from decimate the weak. good stuff all around. haven't heard it? give it a listen!

Naenia
August 20th 2009



40 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm glad to see someone with a brain actually reviewed this. I've yet to check it out and have been looking for real review for a while. Everyone else's just says "Oh look, a breakdown: 1/10."

I totally agree about Johnny's vocals too.

sspedding
August 20th 2009



4715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I like breakdowns. You perceive this person to have a brain because you agree with his opinion. Thats stupid. Of course he has a brain but so do people who disagree.

Exile29
August 20th 2009



167 Comments


Absolutely love this CD, it's a marked improvement over Decimate The Weak and your review pretty much nailed what this album is about. I encourage everyone to check it out.

sspedding
August 20th 2009



4715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

if you say so, btw good review although as seen in my review i disagree.

Phantom
August 20th 2009



8930 Comments


"Lord of the Rings-esque deathcore"

sounds worrying

Roach
August 20th 2009



2149 Comments


I'm glad to see someone with a brain actually reviewed this. I've yet to check it out and have been looking for real review for a while. Everyone else's just says "Oh look, a breakdown: 1/10."



You're another total fucking idiot.

sspedding
August 20th 2009



4715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

exactly

Burnyourface
August 20th 2009



223 Comments


Wow Roach....you've definately clearly proven how intellectually superior you are to me.... and that there is NO bias on this site whatsoever towards metalcore and breakdowns.... and it makes sense that someone like yourself who aparently listens to little or no metalcore would be the authority on it and the rest of us mongaloids should just bow to your greatness.... lets see what have you added to the discussion on this review/album... you've quoted me, and then said, "your an idiot" then you quoted Naenia and then said "your another total f*cking idiot" you sir are the one that can't seem to think of anything useful to say, not us

Roach
August 20th 2009



2149 Comments


Lol okay.

Burnyourface
August 20th 2009



223 Comments


yeah thats pretty funny, not as brilliant as: "your another total f*cking idiot" but i would have expected a prick elitest like yourself to have another blistering put down...like "your a super mega f*cking idiot." why dont you try adding something useful to the conversation, i mean you have to remember that we are in fact: "total f*cking idiots" and need it explained to us why our opinion is wrong.

BallsToTheWall
August 20th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Doesnt really have any standouts but good review.

Zip
August 20th 2009



5313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hey you used to have this at 3

BallsToTheWall
August 20th 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I did. I also dont believe any of this crap saying this is a "major improvement". I count a handfull of awesome standouts on Decimate, I dont pick any here. Album is fun but majorly lacking in hooks.



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