Released: 2017, eOne Music/Good Fight Music
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
It's kind of a toss up as to which death-core band gets shit on more, Emmure or Winds of Plague. And not that both bands haven't deserved it, for any variety reasons – often starting with their respective frontmen and sole original members and centering on their seemingly inexplicable popularity.
But Winds of Plague have had a few genuine moments of distinction – like 2009's blackened deathcore venture The Great Stone War – and their symphonic flourishes brought a little something different to the deathcore table, even if the combination didn't always work. Emmure, on the other hand, pretty much just always sucked.
After overcoming a bit of a rough patch that followed 2013's lukewarm Resistance, bulked up frontman Johnny Plague has rebuilt Winds of Plague from the ground up, adding former drummer Art Cruz and a whole new supporting cast for their fifth album. All the maneuvering, however, doesn't do a whole lot to distinguish Blood Of My Enemy.
The band's sound remains something of a deathcore meets Cradle of Filth hybrid with the crunching riffs, heaving breakdowns and Plague's “Die motherfucker!” belligerence contrasted by frilly synths, orchestral extravagance and the occasional female vocal accompaniment of keyboardist Adrienne Cowan. But the black/death metal histrionics that figured more prominently on Stone War again take a backseat here to the usual 'core thud and thrash – with some notable exceptions, like “Never Alone” or “Soul Eater.”
Tracks that make up much of the back half of the album, “A Walk Among The Dead,” “5150” or “Either Way You Lose,” even have a nu metal/butt-rock hue, a la Slipknot, Disturbed or Five Finger Death Punch, which is a bit of a regression, and not a particularly welcome one, especially as Plague over-emotes his vocals and his mates shout along. The keyboard accents fight for space here among the bludgeoning grooves and hollering and, more often than not, seem out of place.
Without more of the extreme edges, Blood comes off as fairly bland and typical – full of the meatheaded antics and posturing people loathe about death/metalcore, but little of the panache that let Winds of Plague get away with that sort of thing earlier on. Better luck next time.