[Editor's Note: Fuck Guilty Pleasures celebrates the over-produced, commercial, artless, lowbrow music that we believe is genuinely worthwhile. Like, among the best music ever.]
Everyone has that one friend with whom intelligent conversation is a strain. You'll never share your deepest feelings with them. Most of your time spent together will comprise of burning things, getting in fights, and lifting weights. But damn if they aren't fun to hang out with anyway. This friend has a likable energy that never flags; an energy that is infectious. When it comes to heavy metal, that friend's name is Winds of Plague.
The Upland, California act features the most shameless aspects of tough-guy hardcore and a dash of nu-metal, mixed with sprinklings of death metal riffage and cookie-monster vocals. One prominent metal blog even wondered aloud if if Winds of Plague were the new Limp Bizkit.
Believe it or not, however, this seemingly noxious combination of elements works. It's like those Iron Chef episodes where the contestants are given tuna fish, expired Limburger cheese, and rotting-in-the-sun liver, but still come up with something tasty.
Winds of Plague are often unfairly categorized as “deathcore,” a genre containing acts like Suicide Silence and Carnifex who generally mix elements of hardcore and death metal. They're trying to simultaneously appeal to the Warped Tour, Ozzfest, and Cannibal Corpse crowds. But we don't think Winds of Plague fits in, as they're clearly way more ambitious than most of the deathcore bands.
On their 2011 album, Against The World — which we called one of the top ten L.A. heavy metal albums of the year — the group mixes all of its influences together for a wicked sound, one loaded with over-the-top production. Massively-layered shout-along choruses are throwbacks to early-'90s metallic-hardcore greats like Biohazard. On “Refined In The Fire,” it's almost impossible not to scream along with them: “I Fear No Evil / Evil FUCKING FEARS ME!”
These choruses are complemented by vicious guitar breakdowns and symphonic keyboards, both beautiful and eerie. They make it easy to forget that Winds of Plague are on their third “hot chick keyboardist” (current keyboardist Alana Potocnik taking the reigns from previous keyboardists Lisa Marx and Kristen Randell). Now, they didn't invent the hot chick keyboardist gimmick — that would be O.C. metalcore warriors Bleeding Through — but c'mon, this is really taking it to another level.
Again, don't get us wrong, there's not much introspection in Winds Of Plague's lyrics. (This is perhaps the only thing they have in common with Lisa D'Amato.) But that's not why you pick up one of their albums. You do so because you want to expel negativity from your system in a short and violent burst.
You want to lock arms with lead vocalist Johnny Plague and barrel through everyone that gets in your way. “I've been smashed into the ground / But make no mistake / I'll never be counted out / You will bow to my reign,” he sings on “Against The World.” Also witness his defense of our region, despite how fucked up the City of Angels is. “I always come back. CALIFORNIA!”
Hey, my phone is ringing! It's Winds of Plague. You want to hang out tonight? You want to lift weights, burn things and get into fights with people? You know what? That sounds perfect.