Album Review – When Plagues Collide / Tutor of the Dying (2018)

A superb amalgamation of melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, blasted by a Belgian outfit that’s among us to dictate violence and spread the plague.

As total strangers, but sharing the same passion for heavy music, five friends met in June 2016 with the same goal in mind, which was translating their vision of life and musical ideas into a genre that’s not well known or developed among headbangers yet, but that has tons of potential to become your next favorite thing in metal. I’m talking about Symphonic Deathcore, an amalgamation of sounds and styles that encompasses melodic riffs and sweeping solos embraced by the beauty and finesse of symphonic music, and there’s no better band to introduce you to this thrilling new genre than Belgian metallers When Plagues Collide (a name standing for the reflection of our modern-day society and, therefore, allowing a critical view on social issues) and their debut full-length opus, titled Tutor of the Dying.

Believe me when I say you’ll be absolutely stunned by the complex and brutal creations by this Aarschot-based squad, comprised of Wouter Dergez on vocals, Joris Dergez and Santy Van der Mieren on the guitars, Bastiaan Barbieux on bass and Siebe Hermans on drums. Featuring an old school Death Metal-inspired artwork by Hans Trasid of Disart Design, as well as the very special guest musicians Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent, Hollow Prophet), Luke Griffin (Acrania, Human Error) and Tim De Ridder (The Seventh, Before He Shot her), Tutor of the Dying is highly recommended for fans of bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Make them Suffer, Martyr Defiled and Molotov Solution, with each one of the album’s 11 tracks “dictating violence and spreading the plague”, like the band itself would say.

If you’re curious to know what Symphonic Deathcroe is all about, simply hit play and let cryptic sounds and noises from the underworld kick off the six-minute aria Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, being gradually accompanied by a choir and background symphonic elements until all hell breaks loose to the demented beats by Siebe and the lunatic vociferations by Wouter, with both Joris and Santy firing truly incendiary riffs from their axes. Fertilization with the Body of Men is a lot more metallic and closer to traditional Metalcore, with Bastiaan and Siebe shaking the foundations of the earth with their rumbling instruments, not to mention how the background piano and other symphonic elements bring an ethereal touch to the band’s sonic havoc, whereas Legion is another ass-kicking, demolishing tune by the quintet where Wouter sounds even more enraged and demented than before, with the strident sound of the guitars beautifully penetrating deep inside our minds.

And their level of destruction and rage only grows in Dictating Violence, a Deathcore tune perfect for slamming into the pit featuring the first guest of the album, vocalist Ben Duerr, blasting sheer brutality and wrath. Then an eerie and somber semi-acoustic bridge titled Als Imperatieve Grootmacht (which means “as an imperative superpower”, from Dutch) showcases devilish vocalizations and enigmatic words, setting the tone for the fulminating title-track Tutor of the Dying, bringing the most demonic, high-pitched screeches by Wouter, while Siebe shows no mercy for his drums nor for our necks. In other words, this is top-notch Deathcore to the masses with a phantasmagorical and amazing atmosphere, which can also be said about Fleshmould, where guest vocalist Luke Griffin growls and barks like a beast together with Wouter while the band’s guitar duo continues their insane shredding feast for our total delight.

An imposing intro evolves into a bold and introspective creation named Belials Archetype, led by the visceral riffs by both Joris and Santy and also presenting truly wicked lyrics (“Malevolent thoughts slither through the mind of this broken man / The weeping eyes of his unborn child reflecting on the name of his murdered wife / The ever cold breeze carries her scent as reminder of the elegance of life / In her fragile existence she achieves in maintaining the breath of belief in the essence of his being / Still death and reunification offer solace and liberation”); and When Plagues Collide continue their deranged feast of sounds and noises in Marked for Destruction, featuring guest vocalist Tim De Ridder, all embraced by spot-on symphonic elements and without showing any signs of the band slowing down. Quite the contrary, they keep taking their violent Deathcore to new heights, obviously making us fans of extreme music happy. Lastly, presenting a sonority slightly different from the previous songs we have Corpus Maleficus, more symphonic and less barbaric than its predecessors but of course still keeping intact their Deathcore roots, with highlights to the great sync between Siebe’s beats and the flammable guitars by Joris and Santy, before the orchestral, Stygian outro Vows captivates our senses and depressurizes our souls from all the devastation brought forth by the band throughout the entire album.

As already mentioned, I’m certain that after taking a more detailed listen at Tutor of the Dying in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify you’ll get addicted to Symphonic Deathcore, and in order to show your appreciation for the music by When Plagues Collide don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, the excellent Tutor of the Dying, available from the band’s BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from Chugcore’s BandCamp page, from iTunes and from Amazon, is the utmost depiction of what high-end Symphonic Deathcore is all about, always dictating violence, always spreading the plague and, above all that, showing us all When Plagues Collide are among us to stay (and slay).

Best moments of the album: Messengers of the Holy Falsehood, Dictating Violence and Tutor of the Dying.

Worst moments of the album: Corpus Maleficus.

Released in 2018 Chugcore

Track listing
1. Messengers of the Holy Falsehood 6:27
2. Fertilization with the Body of Men 4:25
3. Legion 4:16
4. Dictating Violence (feat. Ben Duerr) 3:42
5. Als Imperatieve Grootmacht 2:41
6. Tutor of the Dying 4:49
7. Fleshmould (feat. Luke Griffin) 3:28
8. Belials Archetype 3:25
9. Marked for Destruction (feat. Tim De Ridder) 4:00
10. Corpus Maleficus 4:18
11. Vows 2:54

Band members
Wouter Dergez – vocals
Joris Dergez – guitar
Santy Van der Mieren – guitar
Bastiaan Barbieux – bass
Siebe Hermans – drums

Guest musicians
Ben Duerr – vocals on “Dictating Violence”
Luke Griffin – vocals on “Fleshmould”
Tim De Ridder – vocals on “Marked for Destruction”

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