Sorrow Plagues — Homecoming
I first discovered the Sorrow Plagues project through a split release with Violet Cold, called Cellar Door (stream link). After an initially good first impression, diving into the project's previous releases proved quite satisfying. The genre of melodic, understated, atmospheric metal has really grown on me over time, and Sorrow Plagues offer a unique blend of blackened melodies mixed below soaring synth and string leads.
Among the seemingly endless ranks of atmospheric metal projects out there, Sorrow Plagues manages to stand out with a vocally-sparse, melody-heavy take on a growing genre. While the general concept of atmospheric music doesn't lend itself to songs packed with catchy hooks, Homecoming features a number of notable melodic passages and even a few hot licks in "Irreversible." The final song, the album's title-track even includes a saxophone solo which manages to fit perfectly into a track full of pounding kick drums and buzzing guitars. (That a sax solo manages to be anything but awful, and avoids serving as a reminder of one of the more lamentable clichés of the 80s is a minor miracle.)
While the vocals are nearly impossible to discern, distorted and wretched as they are, they still lend weight to the brooding, emotionally tense soundscapes Sorrow Plagues crafts so well. Aside from being sparing in their use, the vocals have always been mixed very low on Sorrow Plagues albums. This trend continues, as does a noticeable progression in production quality, song composition and performance, putting Homecoming significantly above all of the project's previous releases. I own and enjoy all of the past Sorrow Plagues albums, but Homecoming is the project's most proficient offering to date.
The first half of the album sounds like improved versions of past efforts, and could easily have fit on any prior release. The latter half of Homecoming gets a lot more experimental at times, while still staying firmly in the established confines of the Sorrow Plagues framework. "Irreversible" really stands out, with it's clean, catchy opening, heavy grooves and tasteful guest solo. The aforementioned final track, sax solo and all, does an exceptional job closing out an emotionally heavy, melodically intense album in perfect fashion.
In such an expansive, underground niche as atmospheric black metal, Sorrow Plagues puts forth their best album yet with Homecoming. Newcomers to the band or scene should skip right to this record, and those already familiar should absolutely give this a listen. Fifty minutes of expansive, emotionally powerful music; I was looking forward to Homecoming since it was announced and all expectations were exceeded upon receipt of the finished product.
Release date: May 27th, 2017
Record label: independent
Sorrow Plagues — all music
Emile Hinton — saxophone solo on track 6
Lewis White — first guitar solo on track 4
Published: June 10th, 2017