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”

Album Review – Sebastien / Act Of Creation (2018)

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal returns with the next chapter in their always-evolving and exciting career.

One of the biggest exponents of modern-day Czech metal is back with a brand new album that will certainly please and entertain all fans of the most electrified form of Melodic Power Metal you can think of. After the releases of their debut album Tears Of White Roses, in 2010, and the critically acclaimed Dark Chambers Of Déjà-Vu, in 2015, it’s time for Brno-based metallers Sebastien to unleash their third full-length installment, titled Act Of Creation, continuing their evolution as a band and, as a consequence, cementing their name as the finest metal act you can find in the entire land of beer.

With its cover artwork designed by Hans Trasid (Dis-Art Design), and featuring an entourage of very special guests the likes of Swedish vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind) and Slovak vocalist Mayo Petranin (Signum Regis), Act Of Creation will bring to your avid ears fourteen exceptional compositions by skillful musicians who are at their prime, from passionate power ballads to those fast and crisp Melodic Metal anthems that will accelerate your heartbeat in an exciting and fun way. Furthermore, it’s very important to emphasize the fact that Sebastien maintained the same lineup from their previous album, which obviously translated into pure cohesiveness, precise timing and a powerful dynamism among all band members.

The title-track Act of Creation kicks off Sebastien’s metallic feast with a heavier-than-usual sonority, bringing elements from modern-day Groove Metal to their traditional Power Metal. Moreover, frontman George Rain has (as expected) an amazing performance showcasing a wide range of vocal styles in the same song, while Pavel Dvorak brings epicness to the overall sound with his keys. Then we have No Destination, a fast-paced, aggressive tune that will please even non-metal fans due to its thrilling rhythm, presenting the always flammable vocals by George supported by Czech guest vocalist Kristýna Dostálová and endless energy flowing from all instruments; and Wake Up, an imposing tune where Lucas R. leads the crew with his pounding drums, with all orchestral and choir-like elements in the background enhancing the song’s already potent vibe. But it obviously wouldn’t be a Sebastien album without a classic power ballad like Amy, displaying spot-on riffs by George and his bandmate Andy Mons while bassist Petri Kallio not only delivers some powerful bass punches, but his 80’s Hard Rock-inspired backing vocals also add a lot of feeling to the final result.

Venturing through the realms of Symphonic and Melodic Metal, the band delivers a futuristic metal chant titled Evermore, presenting a pleasant paradox between clean and harsh vocals, not to mention how determined Pavel is to arouse our senses with his fiery keyboards. My Empire reminds me of some of the latest creations by Sonata Arctica (which unfortunately is not a good thing these days), with an interesting work done with all background elements but nothing that truly connects in the end, whereas Queen from the Stars is a melancholic, serene ballad with passionate performances by George on vocals and Andy with his acoustic and electric guitars. Put differently, simply hold your lighter high and wave it together with Sebastien to this beautiful song. And featuring guest vocalist Mayo Petranin, Winner is a song where the sound of keyboards is considerably higher than the one of the guitars, therefore uniting in a pleasant way the classic sounding of the 80’s with Sebastien’s contemporary metal.

With Czech guest guitarist Djordje Erič (Citron) slashing us all with a gripping, flammable guitar solo, Heal My Soul goes back to a more traditional musicality, albeit still presenting hints of heavy music from the 80’s, and consequently pleasing both fans of the classic metal by Sebastien as well as the ones who prefer more modern Melodic Metal. In Promises, Kristýna Dostálová returns with her charming vocals in another symphonic ballad by Sebastien, with Andi and Pavel being in total sync with their respective riffs and keys, therefore boosting the electricity of the whole song; and featuring guest Apollo Papathanasio on vocals, it’s time for our Czech squad to put the pedal to the metal in the electrifying hymn Die in Me, where the whole band fires pure Melodic Power Metal for our total delight. Displaying a beyond catchy chorus and endless adrenaline, this metal hymn should sound absolutely fantastic during their live performances.

And Act Of Creation might be considered a long album with its over 60 minutes of music, but every song has its purpose just like Full Moon Child, portraying a classic name for a straightforward and very cohesive Power Metal sonority boosted by the precise beats by Lucas, with highlights to the spot-on riffs and solos extracted by Andy from his unstoppable guitar. The second to last metallic act by those Czech rockers comes in the form of a semi-acoustic ballad entitled Hero, with another powerful performance by George on vocals, before the bonus track V Síti Štěstí (or “in the network of happiness” from Czech) closes the album in sublime fashion. It’s not a secret to anyone that Sebastien never get tired of delivering soulful ballads to our ears; however, this is a fresh one, being fully sung in Czech, which seems to have provided George some additional room for adding never-before-seen nuances to his vocal lines.

It’s always a pleasure to see a talented and hardworking band like Sebastien evolving in their already solid career, and if you want to know more about the best metal band hailing from the enchanting Czech Republic you should definitely go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel for news, tour dates (and they do tour several other countries if you ) and, of course, more of their awesome Power Metal. Act Of Creation, which can be purchased from the Pride & Joy Music webstore, from the band’s own Facebook, from iTunes or from Amazon, is one of those albums that will put a smile on your face no matter how hard your day has been, proving once again Sebastien are here to stay and to keep bringing top-tier heavy music to our never-resting metal hearts.

Best moments of the album: No Destination, Evermore, Promises and Die in Me.

Worst moments of the album: My Empire.

Released in 2018 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Act of Creation 4:27
2. No Destination (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:02
3. Wake Up 4:11
4. Amy 5:38
5. Evermore 4:32
6. My Empire 3:48
7. Queen from the Stars 4:34
8. Winner (feat. Mayo Petranin) 4:01
9. Heal My Soul (feat. Djordje Erič) 3:47
10. Promises (feat. Kristýna Dostálová) 3:29
11. Die in Me (feat. Apollo Papathanasio) 4:54
12. Full Moon Child 4:52
13. Hero 5:25

Bonus track
14.V Síti Štěstí 4:34

Band members
George Rain – vocals, guitars
Andy Mons – guitars
Petri Kallio – bass, backing vocals
Pavel Dvorak – keyboards
Lucas R. – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Die In Me”
Mayo Petranin – vocals on “Winner”
Kristýna Dostálová – female vocals on “No Destination” and “Promises”
Djordje Erič – lead guitar on “Heal My Soul”
Vendula Skalová – backing vocals