Relative newcomers to the scene, Detroit’s Plague Years follow up their independently released 2018 debut EP with their first full-length offering, Circle of Darkness (eOne Music).
An album bursting with brutality, speed, and groove, the sonic carnage begins with ‘Play the Victim’. Slow menacing riffs dive-bomb into fast and furious Sepultura style thrash, with more than a touch of death metal nastiness. Vocalist Tim Engelhardt assaults the senses with his abrasive style, his hoarse bark backed by the riffs of Eric Lauder and the pummelling rhythm section of bassist Rian Staber and drummer Mike Jurysta
With no time to draw breath, the savage dungeon torture of ‘Witness Hell’ takes over, Engelhardt now sounding positively unhinged among “the vile smell of rotting limbs”. ‘Paradox Of Death’ features Egyptian style licks and a crushing groove, while ‘Eternal Fire’ comes packed with a slow, punishing crunch, Engelhardt even varying his delivery a little on this one.
The tumultuous title track is as unsurprisingly aggressive as you would expect, while the mid-paced ‘Evil One’ has Slayer written all over it and the zombie armies of ‘Incantation’ attack with fast and chaotic savagery. ‘NRFTL’ (No Respect for the Law) comes equipped with an insistent groove and almost features actual singing, and ‘World In Blood’ finds Engelhardt channelling Possessed, unleashing his inner Jeff Becerra before the album climaxes with the atmospheric, lurching riffery of ‘Urge to Kill’, a closer owing no small debt to Slayer’s ‘Hell Awaits’.
A powerhouse of explosive, groove-fuelled riffs, Circle of Darkness is simply ferocious. The talented Lauder’s frantic soloing shrill and piercing in the best possible way, while Engelhardt’s vocal style – which might not appeal to everyone – is an integral part of their sound as each track takes on a horrific, uncontrollable life of its own.
7 / 10