Plaguemace are releasing its debut album “Reptilian Warlords” on 17th November, A huge bludgeoning from these newcomers of danish death metal!
Formed in 2020 & based in Horsens, Denmark Plaguemace harnesses their own style of old-school death metal in the vein of Grave, Entombed & Obituary which is right up my alley.
The band first catapulted into the scene in 2020 with their first single / demo “Plagueface”. The band was bringing their own contemporary take on the old-school death metal genre.
In the same year, the band released their first EP “Primal Priest” which was a huge sonic explosion in the underground scene. Turning many heads & proving the group isn’t just jumping on the OSDM revival train, these guys showed they had something brutal & worth a listen.
Now with only a few days until the release of their first full-length & recent signing to Napalm Records, “Reptilian Warlords” the band’s debut sees them really focus their sound & somehow make it just that more punishing.
The opening track “Cannibalicious” goes straight for the kill. A really impressive intro section. Full of chugging groove that builds nicely, while lead guitar passages soar over the top. Drummer Matias Zacho’s footwork is flawless, adding a strong double-kick punch underneath.
As the track builds & really gets going it feels like a sledgehammer repeatedly smashing you in the head (it’s a good thing I promise). There is no sign of weakness here. The track is pure death metal that just builds to a nice climax & opens the album right.
“Impenetrable Leather” picks up the pace. A thrashy affair that gets your foot tapping & head banging straight away. A perfect blend of early Death and obituary, this track is a rager.
Vocalist Andreas Truelsen’s presence so early on the album is really impressive. Some of the newer bands really try to gimmick their vocal style but Andreas’s feel’s very natural & organic. It blurs the line when fitting into the mix. It sits well within the heavy sound of the band but also has enough pronunciation to cut through.
Bringing back the groove & adding a new bounce to the album “Rhythmic Demise” is a stand-out album. Full of energy but also at moments can feel dark of how wretched Truelsen’s vocals become. This track has even some slower death doom elements which fit really well into their sound. Another string to the bow as it were.
The guitar tone on the record is also a huge highlight. Simon Truelsen & Anton Holm Smidstrup have been able to sculpt a guitar tone that hints at the traditional OSDM sound but also let it be clear enough for a modern ear. It really punches through, thick low end but also the single notes & solo sections are bright & cut well over the tracks.
The title track “Reptilian Warlords” comes right in with a rock’n’roll swagger. A nice thick slow chuggy riff intros the track as it builds but then the back increases the speed ever so slightly which gives the track a nice dynamic.
This track also showcases the great decisions the band make when it comes to songwriting. Some bands stick with one formula but Plaguemace have written really inventive songs, With each section gelling well with the next & also partly keeping you on the edge of your seat to see what will come next.
“Reptilian Warlords” does exactly that. It’s a real melting pot of all the band’s assets & it’s a truly well-crafted track worthy of the album’s title.
A real surprise on the second half of the album “Ambrosia” is a nearly nine-minute epic. Beginning with a beautiful clean guitar the track slowly pulls you in as it layer by layer creates its intensity. At the two-minute mark, the band brings back from earlier that death doom sound but here it’s turned to 11 & fully fleshed out.
A hypnotic guitar riff puts you in a trance while epic-style lead guitar riffs soar over the top. The band ramped things up again close to the four-minute mark & now they are fully unleashed. Perfectly merging the track into a groovy & thick straight-up death metal track feels like a nice evolution from the early half to these closing moments. A pleasant but muchly welcome surprise from the group.
“Reptilian Warlords” is a superb first album from these Danish killers. The album gives you a whole showcase of the best elements of ODSM & even some you wouldn’t see. If this is the strength of their early material I really can’t wait to see where Plaguemace goes from here. A strong debut showing just how modern death metal SHOULD sound!
Review: Joseph Mitchell
Reptilian Warlords is out via Napalm Records on 17 November 2023