By The Plight
'Winds Of Osiris' the debut full-length from Leeds' The Plight, is a definite grower. Initially, you'll struggle to see past frontman Al's vocals, which have all the garbled messiness of hardcore, whilst falling just short on the aggression that usually characterises the genre. If you make your emotional connection to music through the lyrics or vocal tones, then 'Winds Of Osiris' initially won't impress, although it's worth sticking at because what The Plight lack vocally and lyrically, they make up for with the always-interesting soundscapes the rest of the band create.
First though, we have an intro to get through.
Intros and outros seem to be all the rage at the moment, and The Plight's album-opening and album-closing double-header of 'Spit On The Cross Part 1' and 'Spit On The Cross Part 2' are better than most. '...Part 1' is a brief and rather inconsequential blast of bluesy guitar-plucking, but '...Part 2' takes that and expands it into a brash, ballsy hard-rock tune where the riffs ring out in true, classy, hard-rock fashion. It's a good song, but splitting it into an intro and an outro, suggests an epic, social commentary / concept album listening 'experience,' which 'Winds Of Osiris' isn't. The outro is weighty, no-frills, enjoyable hard-rock, but the intro is completely pointless. Why The Plight felt they needed to bookend 'Winds Of Osiris' like this, is anybody's guess.
And The Plight continue failing to make a good first impression, with second track and first 'proper' song 'Lovesick Maniac.' It's a headlong punk plunge of racing riffs, mixed up with chuggy interludes, and topped off with Al's sludgy vocals. Although The Plight wisely keep 'Lovesick Maniac' clattering along at a fair pace, the chorus of "you're a sick maniac / you're a lovesick maniac" repeated over and over, feels particularly tired and uninspired, and the song consequently fails to ignite.
But, following a wishy-washy opening, The Plight finally begin to come into their own, with the funky opinion-turner 'Into The Night.' One area where The Plight excel is extended instrumental introductions, which feature on 90% of the songs on this album. 'Into The Night's opening minute is an ingenious blend of funk and heaviness, as the drummer lays down an impossibly groovy drum line, and the rest of the band make the most of it, interspersing the thumping beats with pulsing bass and hitching, angular guitars. The rest of the song is fairly atypical, jangly rock, but The Plight keep returning to that perfectly put-together combo of toe-tapping drums and jigging guitars. A strong song, with plenty of highlights borrowed, magpie-like, from that introduction.
'Before The Law' and 'Sick Of The Dreaming' follow in 'Into The Night's footsteps and perfectly blend funky beats with pub-rock heaviness. The latter follows 'Into The Night's blueprint the most closely, also going down the 'rollicking drum line and unusually-shaped riffs' route. As the song progresses, The Plight factor in passages of looser, spiralling guitars and chuggy, hard-rock passages. Unfortunately, they also factor in too many random musical tangents, particularly towards the end, where a section of long, grating riffs, overlaid with technical chord-mangling, completely destroys the flow of the song. 'Sick Of The Dreaming' would have worked much better, if they'd snipped out the mid-section.
'Before The Law,' takes a more eclectic approach, fleshing out its thumping drum line with pulsing guitar and clucking cowbell, and periodically gathering to a glimmering, slippery-slick shimmy. As always, the vocals are hardcore-inscrutable without quite being hardcore-angry, but when a song has this much style and poise, that doesn't matter. An album highlight.
Another album highlight, but of a more metallic slant, is 'Counting Teeth.' A doomy undercurrent of twisted riffing is half-hidden beneath a veneer of bounding drumbeats and short, squealy guitar lines. There's an attention-grabbing contrast between the snappy, punkish surface, and the darkness lurking at its heart.
As already mentioned, The Plight excel at extended instrumental intros, and the opening minutes of 'Tied To The Tracks' and 'From Hell' are the best of the bunch. 'From Hell' kicks off with a heady, Mediterranean-tinged swirl of guitars, before picking up the pace and galloping into a rougher, rawer chug that's peppered with the wailing guitars and spiralling riffs that make that introduction such a winner. 'Tied To The Tracks' meanwhile, opens with a sinuous guitar line that contrasts interestingly against the jolting drumbeats. A gloriously self-indulgent guitar slide takes us into the main body of the song. Again, everything that's good about the introduction - the lurching drums, the winding riffs - reoccurs throughout the song, and provides it with its stand-out moments. However, in this instance, those stand-out moments occur a little too sparingly. Your attention may just start to lag before 'Tied To The Tracks' is through.
'Hard To Swallow' has the album's most unusual introduction, with technical chord-work that has a flat, almost electronic edge. The Plight always seem to be chasing the unusual sound, which is fortunate as this is an album that really is all about the music. 'Hard To Swallow' is thumping, deceptively simple hard-rock, with plenty of classy riffs and the occasional technical flourish.
'Winds Of Osiris' has a touch of the theatrical that's befitting of a title track. A long, steady build-up of drum rolls and doomy bass leads into a punkish gallop, with a handful of sinuous riffs putting a groovy spin on this punk-meets-hard-rock number. The Plight do have a tendency to wander off the beaten track and lose a little momentum in the middle, but for once their mid-song interlude is spot-on: a lurching, vaguely trippy time-out, shot through with melodic guitars. It showcases an intriguing new side to the band, as does the beautifully understated instrumental 'Lifted To The Sun.' A glittering acoustic refrain forms the basis of this emotive song, and slowly wailing electric guitars and delicate touches of cello put the finishing touches to this spine-tingler of a song. Not the album's finest moment, but it's nevertheless a fresh side to this predominantly hard-rock band.
'Winds Of Osiris' starts off on a very weak note, with 'Spit On The Cross Part 1' and 'Lovesick Maniac.' Thankfully, it recovers, and by the halfway point you'll be wondering why you ever doubted them. Punk-infused hard-rock, The Plight know how to put their instruments together to create unusual, attention-grabbing combinations. 'Before The Law,' 'Sick Of The Dreaming' and 'Into The Night' are a masterclass in how to make heavy rock funky and catchy, and it's worth purchasing this album for these three songs alone. Even if the vocals aren't quite to your taste, there's still more than enough here to hold your attention.