Over the course of their last few records these Minneapolis crust punk stalwarts have really honed their metal chops. I’ll do my best to avoid any “who put their metal in my punk” type of argument and just say, as someone who prefers my metalpunx leaning more to the punk side, I find Temperaments of War a little less intriguing than any of their previous releases. Aside from a few subtleties they’ve gone pretty much full-on metal this time around.
Their evolution into metal shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that’s followed WAR//PLAGUE’s string of releases thus far. They have largely eschewed the mucky subterranean type of crust (a style that fellow Minneapoltans Kontrasek do very well) in favor of masterful instrumentation, decipherable vocals, and clean production. That is to say they’re more “punk” in their approach and application (and lifestyle no doubt) than they are in their sound. And this time around they’ve got a really big sound that, sonically speaking, is more fitting for larger stages than tiny basements.
Whereas 2013’s Primal flexed a stripped down thrash attack, Temperaments of War shows them embracing longer, more complicated compositions. On “Blood” they take the galloping, space-filling facets typical of epic crust acts and place them alongside soaring guitar-led crescendos that suggest some NWOBHM influence. I don’t expect them to be opening for Anthrax or Testament any time soon, but musically speaking it wouldn’t actually be that weird if they did.
I’m only working with MP3 files here, which means it’s mostly guess work when it comes to deciphering any possible deeper meaning in these song titles or their relation to the name of the EP or for that matter the way they are sequenced – “Blood”, “Yellow Bile”, “Black Bile”, and “Phlegm.” (Plug them into the Google machine exactly as I have written them out and you’ll find your way to a Wikipedia page on humorism. And you can take it from there.) It’s probably safe to assume the vinyl version is the ever-popular 12” 45 RPM format. But again, without physical product in hand I can’t be certain. (This is not a shot at the band, as I know that working within the budgetary constraints of DIY punk doesn’t allow much room for physical review copies.)
One of the great things about WAR//PLAGUE is that they’re always changing things up. Time will tell if the style of Temperaments of War is just another step in the band’s progression or if this is where they settle in and get comfortable. Personally I’d like to see them devolve a little in terms of production, and go for a rawer, dirtier sound. That being said, even though my preference falls on the sloppier end of the spectrum I very much like what they’ve done here; particularly because they did it so well. If the cleaner sounding metal side of crust is your thing, you’d likely dig this.
7.0 / 10
WAR//PLAGUE always come a little different each time out. Primal is their fifth release (and the seventh single in the Profane Existence Single Series) and one that shows the Minneapolis quartet stripping away ...
Posted Oct. 1, 2014, 2:55 p.m.
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