Album Year: 2013
Genre: Avant-Garde Grind / Blackened Deathgrind
Location: London, UK / Sacramento, CA
Label: Malignant Manifestation Productions (CD) / Buriedinhell Records (Vinyl)
“Hope Is The First Sign of Defeat”
“Just Show Me How It Ends”
3: Plague Widow
4: Plague Widow
Oblivionized is an avant-garde grind band from London, England. In the past few years, Oblivionized has released some of the most interesting and unique grind I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. Since I first heard Abhorrent Evolution in late 2011, I’ve been a huge fan of this band. As grind bands should, Oblivionized has evolved and refined their sound with each consecutive release. Plague Widow is a deathgrind band from Sacramento California. I honestly hadn’t heard of this band until Oblivionized announced they would be collaborating on a split, but I’m glad I did.
This Black Earth is a four-song split. Oblivionized performs the first two songs, “Hope Is the First Sign of Defeat” and “Just Show Me How It Ends”. Plague Widow’s “Malignant” and “Paralytic Levitation”. All of these songs were written specifically for This Black Earth so none of the songs are currently available on other releases.
“Hope Is the First Sign of Defeat” starts off with a sound sample which fits the overall tone of Oblivionized’s songs. Zac’s trademark grindcore shriek is thankfully present, and you can definitely tell he has improved in these past few years. It’s a bit grittier and it seems he’s improved range-wise as well. Sammy, the guitarist, provides occasional backing lows which are a nice addition to round out the vocals. The guitar work is a lot different, focusing on interesting riffs and patterns over sheer speed. Will’s drumming also is more focused and better written than Jonathan’s drumming on previous releases. I wasn’t able to really notice the bass which was also recorded by Sammy (the band currently lacks a bassist). The second song, “Just Show Me How It Ends” is a bit darker and more furious. I’m a big fan of the dissonant guitar writing on this one, as well as some of the “slower” parts.
Plague Widow’s half of This Black Earth is totally different. “Malignant” starts off with some very black metal-esque riffs and drumming which were quite interesting. The songs shifts a bit towards a more death metal / deathgrind sound for the rest of the song, all the while maintaining a “blackened” sound. Marc’s vocals are a combination of low growls and occasional high snarls. Like Zac, his vocals are unique, although in a totally different way. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed Hal’s guitar work and the way he fuses several genres. The drumming is a constant pulse of blast beats and unfortunately sounds a bit fake at times. Plague Widow also lacks a bassist, although there is bass in the songs thanks to Hal. “Paralytic Levitation” is a bit slower and features more of Marc’s awesome high vocals.
Overall, This Black Earth was a very solid release. I enjoyed Oblivionized’s songs a bit more, but Plague Widow made the other half interesting as well. I wish I could’ve commented on the lyrics, but no lyric booklet was included. Unfortunately, the CD’s are sold out, but you can preorder the vinyl from Buriedinhell records for a paltry $5. At that price, I would highly recommend buying this split. I might actually buy a vinyl copy as well. I’m also definitely looking forward to buying / reviewing Oblivionized’s split with Human Cull a bit later this year.
Plague Widow: 7.5/10