By: Octavio Ramos Jr.
Formed in 2011 in the small city of Gallup, New Mexico, throws down
death metal with facets of grindcore. The music is harshly melodic and technical, with members
of A Malicious Plague citing as influences bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder, White
Chapel, and In Flames. In March 2017, the band unleashed a four-track (five, if you count the
two-minute intro) self-titled EP, one designed to spread a plague of malevolence through the
southwest and beyond.
The EP kicks off with “Doomsday,” which sounds like something more akin to thrash or black
metal, with its buzz-saw guitars, distorted and electronic vocals, and predominant guitar riff. The
guitar riff of course is pristine death metal, hinting at thrash with its fullness, although the
technicality and burst-like nature of the secondary guitar settles it into the death-metal genre.
Next up is the first song proper, titled “Altars of Perception.” What strike the ears first are the
dueling guitars, courtesy of Daniel Castaneda and TJ Klaus. The lead guitar reeks of resonance,
its thick hooks contrasted by the second guitar’s chainsaw-like riffage. Both guitars hint at the
modern, particularly when executing the leads, but there’s always some traditional riffing that
hearkens to the heart of traditional death metal. Vocalist Efren Castaneda uses a solid mix of
low-end growls and demon scowls (even the occasional pig squeal—now that’s old school) that
keep the pace relentless but accessible.
“Dwellers of Disintegration” is a more straightforward affair, with drummer Dion Elliott setting
down an unremitting pace and both guitars ripping against each other while Efren spews forth his
demon rips and pig squeals. The rhythm guitar is particularly infectious here, changing hooks at
will as if to tease the lead guitar into spitting out yet another riff or lead. Once again, hints of
modern death metal abound, but the heaviness keeps it all together.
The shortest composition on the EP, “Legions” hearkens back to the intro, using the same
“narrative” voice, until Efren sets loose with a different scream, this one more in keeping with
vicious metalcore. No worries, as the demonic ones quickly take center stage, augmented by the
signature low-end burps, with bassists Joshua Franks setting down a subtle bass line over which
both guitars tear it up.
Closing out the EP is the track “No More than a Monster,” an aggressive scorcher that blazes
through its six-minute runtime with no mercy. Elliot’s drumming is insane here, enabling both
guitars to set off some solid riffage from start to end. The dueling nature of the vocals, with the
low-end growls augmented by the demon scowls, really works well on this track. The only
quibble with this track is that some of the guitar leads are bit too generic, but otherwise this track
absolutely rocks. The acoustic work at the end of the song is in startling contrast to the bulk of it,
but it works well to soothe the savage breast.
was recorded, tracked, mixed, and mastered at Grizzly Sound. The track “No More than a
Monster” was mastered by Cody Stewart. The guitar solo for this track was written by former
member Brandon Pea. Those into the current wave of death metal, as well as those who still
enjoy getting a face slap from a traditional vibe, will both find this EP delivers the goods.