Review: Plebeian Grandstand – Lowgazers

Do you like your metal imbued with melody? Your breakdowns coveted by harmony? Your guitar solos harmonized by gorgeous major 5ths and subtle minor 7ths? If the answer to any of these queries is yes than well, Lowgazer simply ain’t your bag.

The latest release on the consistently brilliant Throatruiner Records by French melody-detesting quartet Plebeian Grandstand is nothing short of an aural bludgeon. It’s a record brimming with such unfathomable bile that those who purchase the vinyl version will be forced to adorn themselves with health and safety garb for fear of the record stomping on them and spitting in their face before brutishly strolling off to find the next victim of its puerile rage. Lowgazers arrives defiantly devoid of the slenderest amount of melody, instead sporting more tri-tones than you can shake a stick at and scattering them with such abundance as to mock the historical belief that their inclusion in music amounted to the equivalent of installing a “devil in the music”. The Toulouse four-piece draw upon just about every gnarly and malevolent derivative of extreme metal, throwing it all together in a singular maelstrom, a swirling cyclone of violent noise. Tracks are underpinned by the frantic blastbeats of black metal, whilst the guitars administer a rather unique blend of wrist-aching black metallic speed and dissonant open notes, occasionally slackening the speed into the murky realm of sludge.

Opener ‘Thvrst’ is resplendent in its sheer vitriol, guitars making it their duty to maintain a staunch dissonance, a duty that adamantly continues for the length of the record. Vocals abound with terrifying throaty screams, slicing through the instrumental tumult with piercing shrieks that surely leave vocal chords in tatters. Somewhat inevitably, the tracks coalesce into a singular frenetic blur of blastbeats and caustic furore, with difficulty arising in recognising when some tracks begin and end, even after repeated listens. In fact, the record exists as a singular barrage of satanic sound; largely unrelenting and upholding its manic intensity until a much needed mid-section respite. ‘Relief of Troth’ provides just that: relief. The two minute track marking the midway point for the album, a track of ambient noise that although unsettling, allows for a much needed break from the aural terror. ‘Svn in Your Head’ however, throws the listener right back into the fray with doom-laden feedback and a supremely sludgy, sloth-paced riff. Things soon return to their intense disposition on ‘Aimless Roaming’ whilst the album ends in the same fashion as it opens; in a veritable flurry of apocalyptic, discordant and hate-filled metal.

Lowgazer is a record of extremely limited appeal, but its sheer uncompromising audacity and intent on carving out some of the bleakest, most grating and extreme metal around deserves due recognition. It is a rare record, solely in terms of its breath-taking intensity and focus. Plebeian Grandstand aimed to make the most ruthless record they could fathom, and all credit to them, they have done just that.

3.5 out of 5 high fives!

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