Released: 2010, Stand And Deliver Records
Lexington Kentucky’s Society’s Plague is a six-piece metalcore band with melodic riffs born straight from the minds of In Flames. Formed in 2006, the band released an EP titled THE MERCY UNTOLD which got the attention of metalcore fans across the world, largely because of the tight and accomplished guitar work of Joe and Roger (no last names are given). Society’s Plague is also somewhat unique in that they employ a female keyboardist named Kate, instead of the expected crooner on vocals to alternate with the harsh aggro male vocals that has become a trend in too many genres. THE HUMAN CANVAS is the band’s first full length album, produced by Tony Gammalo and Ben Schigel who have worked with Chimaira and Walls of Jericho.
Being a metalcore band, what does Society’s Plague do to stand above the overwhelming amount of dreck populating the genre? Not that much actually. On the surface, you could attribute the band’s self-labeled “melodic metalcore” sound to subtle keyboards and clean vocals on most of the songs. The majority of the songs though feature Matt’s tough guy vocal shouts and throat gurgles alternating with the clean style, along with the anticipated breakdowns and start/stops. Actually, I was ready to dismiss this album entirely after a few songs until the guitar work eventually won my respect. Yes, this is definitely an album saved by the guitars, as the melodic riffs of “Buried in Flames” attest and the heavy groove break on “Transcend The Throne” just kills. Occasionally, the keyboards add a nice atmospheric touch, but during the instrumental passages the style of the music intrudes on symphonic metal boundaries. Hey, that element suits me just fine but it is probably not what the band intended.
From a production standpoint, the album is almost faultless and everybody in the band wields their instruments with confidence and passion. There is also something here for every metalcore fan, from fast thrashy songs to melodic Emo like “Mourning Sun”, sung entirely in clean vocals. The problems with this album are endemic to metalcore, which are the predictable and established conventions of metalcore style singing and guitar chugs. Nevertheless, everything is salvaged by the melodic and impressive guitar work, and the keyboards are a welcome change, even if they do not necessarily fit as well into the metalcore genre. Veteran metalcore fans will not notice a great deal of originality on THE HUMAN CANVAS, but Society’s Plague is good at what it does. Fans of Killswitch Engage and In Flames even should find this a listenable and respectable album.