Review: Sect ‘Plagues Upon Plagues’

I chose to review Plagues Upon Plagues for two reasons; one was because they are on Southern Lord, a label which rarely if ever disappoints and the other was due to the inclusion of Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy. Whilst I’m not a fan of said band, I was intrigued enough nevertheless to hear what this project would sound like with his inclusion.

Sect 'Plagues Upon Plagues' Artwork
Sect ‘Plagues Upon Plagues’ Artwork

Formed in 2015, Sect unites prominent names from within the hardcore/metal scenes including the aforementioned Andy Hurley on drums (also of Racetraitor), guitarists Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis/Tooth & Claw) and Jimmy Chang (Undying/Catharsis), Steve Hart (Day of Suffering/Mania For Conquest) on bass and vocalist Chris Colohan (Cursed/Unwell).

Plagues Upon Plagues follows 2019’s Blood Of The Beasts, 2017’s No Cure For Death and 2016’s self-titled debut, while the title is a reference to both the Covid pandemic and the metaphorical rise of fascism. Far from being chuckle worthy topics, the cover denotes a hardcore/crust-punk influence, and as such, one can envisage this being a raging beast of an album.

No Uncertain Terms, the album’s longest track at over six minutes, comes as something of a surprise. If you were expecting an all-out brutal sonic assault from the off, then you may be taken aback to learn that this track shares a musical DNA more in common with early ‘90s Neurosis style post-metal than say the likes of Disrupt. Despite confounding expectations, it serves as a perfect opener.

New Low, as with the predecessor, establishes a tone for the album which vocalist Chris Colohan has described in the promotional notes as ‘a funeral rather than a trial’. Basically, imagine downbeat gothic doom metal, but with a social conscience, captivating stuff. Drowning In Sorrows returns us to what is Sect‘s bread and butter, vicious hardcore that mines a similar territory to veterans Ringworm and Integrity, this should please long time fans of the band who may be more accustomed to the riotous side of their repertoire.

Zerzan Wept is more metallic sounding with deliciously crunchy riffing and fantastic melodic guitar work reminiscent of Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash and #ForeverHome takes a pop at the virtual signalling types who, over the pandemic, adopted animals and then abandoned them once life returned to normal. The track seethes with justifiable rage and the shades of death metal which are present provide an ideal musical accompaniment. The Lovers Of Life again ups the tempo, blending together very effectively hardcore and black metal to forge what is an incendiary and exciting sound that would give bands of both genres a run for their money.

Inventory features crust punk and grindcore goodness which absolutely shreds, offering no mercy to the hapless listener. A minor complaint would be that I wish the band had of maintained the momentum established at the start of the track as it was positively thrilling to behold. Finally, Six Black Lines (Plagues Upon Plagues) reminds me of late ‘90s Slayer Diabolus In Musica era. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as that album definitely had its moments and its influence on the evil and ominous vibes of the track are evident.

Although there were moments which hinted at Sect‘s prior output, Plagues Upon Plagues demonstrates a band that has clearly decided to throw caution to the wind in order to experiment. The chaos and all out sonic assault has been reigned in somewhat to reveal a more restrained and introspective side to the band. Whether long-term fans embrace this newfound approach remains to be seen, I for the most part certainly have.

Label: Southern Lord
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills