INTERVIEW: Plague Rider | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As stalwarts of the local metal circuit, Plague Rider have already made waves with their highly technical and intricate take on death metal. Their new EP Rhizome however finds the band upping the ante considerably: over four ambitious compositions, the band take in everything from blasted doom, surging electronic distortion and influences from the most extreme ends of free jazz and fusion to craft a remarkable statement that sets them far apart from the pack.

Plague Rider frontman James Watts (who you may also know as part of vocal loop duo Mobius and chaotic scene fixtures Lovely Wife) notes “We’ve probably been on that kind of trajectory since very early on. The impetus has always been to push at the limits of what we can do both technically, and in terms of song writing – so arriving at the experimental point that we’re at currently has been pretty organic.”

Although the addition of more progressive or complex structures within death metal is nothing new in itself – that’s been the case since, well, death – the collision between the distorted growls of Watts, the sheer velocity of Matthew Henderson’s drums, Jake Bielby’s ever changing guitar lines and the dizzying virtuosity of Lee Anderson’s bass makes for a thrilling and unique listen.

we’re all interested in pushing the arrangements as far as we can feasibly get them

Discussing the band’s compositional process, Watts explains, “Though the initial process of learning the original compositions can be tricky, it’s more the developing of them and the trying out of ideas within that framework that can take the time. There is generally always room to try new and interesting things within what we’ve already got written and we’re all interested in pushing the arrangements as far as we can feasibly get them, so new layers and convoluted sections can present themselves in the rehearsal process, though that development is pretty organic.”

One key addition to the armoury in Rhizome is the electronics and noise elements brought in by Rob Woodcock (FRET!/Platemaker). “We’d been operating without a second guitarist for a little while, and had a gig booked at the Old Police House with Platemaker, and asked Rob if he wanted to be involved. It worked really well, so he joined. We’ve since amicably parted ways, but the influence has been pretty profound, and the noise elements will still remain going forward.”

Adding greater depth to the mix are Watts’ abstract, darkly poetic lyrics, which deal in philosophical and social critique. One particular influence Watts flags is the post-structuralist work A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. “Challenger’s Lecture and Without Organs both draw influence from A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari and form part of a trilogy of songs that will appear on the full album – it’s a deliberately very complex and convoluted piece of writing which seems a perfect fit for the band, and those songs in particular.”

Launching the EP in the company of Brazilian black metal icons Grave Desecrator at Trillians on Monday 10th September, Watts promises: “We’re planning the set to be as immersive and intense as ever, and we’ll be playing the EP in full alongside some new material with it all blending into one seamless whole. We don’t really do pauses – and we definitely don’t do stage banter.”

Plague Rider release Rhizome on 10th September via Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings and Panurus Productions. They play Trillians, Newcastle with Grave Desecrator and Vacivus the same night.


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