Review: Plaguewielder ‘Covenant Death’

The latest addition to the Disorder Recordings roster comes courtesy of Steubenville Ohio natives Plaguewielder and their third album Covenant Death, the follow-up to 2019’s Suffering From Self Inflicted Wounds EP. The band are primarily a duo made up of vocalist/guitarist Bryce Seditz and drummer Tim Roberts, with help this time round from Disorder Recordings label owner Jeff Wilson (also of Deeper Graves, Chrome Waves) on bass, guitars and synths. Wilson also engineered, recorded and mixed the album, with additional guitar work provided by Steve Lehocky of Cryptic Abuse. The horror influenced artwork was devised by Jef Whitehead (Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice) and the layout handled by Jeff Wilson.

Plaguewielder 'Covenant Death'

The album kicks off with To Dance With Wolves, the longest track on the album at six and a half minutes that alternates brilliantly between melodic post-black metal and pulverizing old-school black metal. There are shades of Chrome Waves evident in the music, so while the fury of the aforementioned 2019 EP is retained, this is tempered by a strong melodic expansive streak.

At Night They Roam takes its cues from the world of post-black metal, but unlike say the likes of Deafheaven, there is a good deal more punch evident. The drum-work is impressive and the track as a whole brings to mind the orchestral atmospheric tension of classic Emperor. A Death That Knows No End is possibly the most poppy, and dare I say, accessible track on the album. It’s a number that once again references Chrome Waves, and in particular their track Gazing Into Oblivion with its strong melodies. There’s also some outstanding soloing present by Lehocky as well as a gothic sensibility via both the bombast of Sisters of Mercy and the darker introspective work of One Second era Paradise Lost. A standout on the album for sure.

alternates brilliantly between melodic post-black metal and pulverizing old-school black metal…

One With the Shadows marks the halfway point of the record and is an absolutely ripping track with some savage warp speed blackened death metal in tow, offering a nice contrast to both the preceding and following numbers, the latter of which is the title track. The shortest on the album at two minutes six, Covenant Death acts as a pleasant mellow interlude with layers of synths that nod to the ambient works of Jean Michel Jarre. CRGP follows with an old-school murky vibe that comes across like it was purposely recorded to sound like any number of early 90s black metal demos, it definitely evokes the creepy lo-fi quality of that period. A track that will make old school fans weep with nostalgic joy.

Black Mysticism‘s guitar lines evoke those to be found on Mayhem’s Mysteriis Dom Sathanas  and the track certainly feels like it would fit in perfectly on that legendary album, both sonically as well as in terms of imagery; listening to it Trondheim’s Nidaros Cathedral, as featured on that album’s cover, comes right to the fore. Evocative brilliance. Forever We Shall Be, a mid-paced number, features the atmospheric gothic tinged alt-rock of Deeper Graves and closes the album on a beautifully subdued note.

Credit needs to be assigned to Seditz and Roberts for choosing to take a risk and step outside their comfort zones with this beautifully balanced and exceptional release. Having heard their previous output, I would say this is their most fully realized and accomplished effort to date, part of which could be ascribed to Jeff Wilson‘s involvement. Jeff, as with his own projects, appears to have the midas touch of late and in my opinion anything which bears his name warrants investigation. An album that will appeal to broad-minded fans of the genre.

Label: Disorder Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills