Oblivionized/Plague Widow – This Black Earth
Genre: Grindcore/Death Metal
Label: Malignant Manifestation Productions
/ Buried In Hell Records
In recent years, split releases seem to be gaining a rising popularity in underground metal/punk – a lot of the times offering some material that grows to be stapled as fan favourites. So, it is a great moment when London’s grinding Oblivionized and California’s furious Plague Widow release a split together named “This Black Earth” – exclusively released on 7-inch vinyl and cassette. A refreshing take on DIY in this digital age. But let’s talk about the music…
If you’re unaware of Oblivionized’s sound, they stride between a thin borderline of grindcore and technical death metal, never letting you sit comfortable or bored for a second, always sprinting into new directions and phases – just think of the ferocity of Fukpig meeting the dizzying technicality of PsyOpus. On “This Black Earth”, you can expect the same as their previous EP material. The three-piece is made up by vocalist Zac Broughton, guitarist Sammy Urwin and drummer Will Brunsden.
Hope Is The First Sign Of Defeat opens with slightly muffled sample of the infamous Peter Finch’s The Network speech, with some nice guitar droning underneath it. Then the band jump in as the sample reaches a pinnacle and deliver a filthy muddle of guitar, drums and vocals. Zac’s signature vocals – sounding like the retching-talk between episodes of vomiting – are just as disgusted as the lyrics, which has lines like “Get a job piss your money away / Shut up and drink your pint / You’ll never find what you want at the bottom because you drowned your dreams on the surface”. It’s nihilism in it’s purest form.
The second track, Just Show Me How It Ends, features a similar acidic form of frustration and nihility, but this time opening with a doomy use of feedback and distortion. The guitar and drums then throw themselves in an almost slam groove that is just so deadly and menacing. There’s also a low-end riff/groove that appears (and evolves) at 2:20 onwards in the track that reminisces of Prowler In The Yard-era Pig Destroyer; which demands nothing but air-guitaring with a face of disgust. Brutal.
The other two tracks on this split are by Plague Widow, a duo made up by vocalist Marc Dickinson and guitarist Hal Rotter, along with their session drummer Gabe Seeber on this release. This side is shorter than Oblivionized’s, providing a more short and sharp sort of punishment than Oblivionized’s more gradual grinding approach, and they play a style of death metal that has its clear black metal influences. This is especially apparent on the first track Malignant.
Clocking in at just over 3-minutes, Malignant is the lengthier of the two tracks and kicks off with a tremolo-played riff, but instead of the usual accompanied high-pitched screams, you get extremely low death metal growls instead – even reaching a croaking level (on both of the Plague Widow tracks) that you’d expect from Circle Of Dead Children, which is ideal for their instrumental approach. Despite the extended use of those tremolo-played riffs, the track ventures more on death metal grounds than it does black metal thanks to constant sharp changes and the general low-end of it all.
Paralytic Levitation delves further into the brutal death metal sound, and from the get-go, you’re blasted with furious bassy riffs and blastbeats, accompanied by guttural vocals throughout (with a few highs inbetween). The band just does not let up, twisting and turning, and Hal’s fretwork from the low to high strings is devestating and, again, the Circle Of Dead Children-esque croaks by Marc are just perfect for incredibly dark instrumental of it all.
This split, in whole, is pretty solid and which side you prefer will probably depend on your personal leaning when it comes to grind or blackened death metal, but both show a lot of promise and stunning musicianship. It’s simply a fitting split between Oblivionized and Plague Widow, offering an equal measure of similarities and differences that makes it both perfect for fans of the grind/death metal genre but enough of the signature sound of each to keep your interest throughout. If you’re new to either band, this split is the perfect package for your introduction to them.
It’ll just be interesting to see how each band takes their next step from here.
Favourite tracks: Hope Is The First Sign Of Defeat, Paralytic Levitation.