Background: Downtempo, as a relatively new subgenre that is derived from standard deathcore and mixed in with elements of sludge and doom, has begun to take charge of the underground metal community since its conception in the early 2010s. Since then, the scene became slightly oversatured with several small time bands who play mostly down-tuned chugging riffs accompanied by growling and/or shrieked vocals and double-bass drumming. The subgenre holds most of its popularity in the urban USA & Canada, with the latter being the birth place of today's featured artist.
Band History: Formed in the Gatineau region of Quebec, Canada just a few short years ago, Beyond Deviation is a sludgewave/downtempo group that has gained somewhat of a decent cult following after the release of their debut EP titled White Noise in 2015. In addition, the five-piece band is currently signed to the independent label known as Chugcore and have recently released their second EP, The Plague King, just last week, with a brand-new vocalist in their midst.
Release Breakdown: To summarize this new EP, the best way to describe it is that The Plague King is a more polished version of White Noise that adds a few minor elements to its writing. Unlike the previous release, The Plague King's production quality is tremendous and very clear...with none of the audio mixing issues that White Noise became notorious for.
Pros: As mentioned before, the new vocalist does a solid job at providing his own sound as well as emulating the voice of the band's previous frontman, save for some of the piercingly aggressive highs. Still, listeners can easily hear the brutality and energy in the new vocals. Overall, he's good at mixing it up. The guitar work is very similar, in general, to a lot of others comprising this genre. Mainly, you'll hear tons of chugging breakdowns, both slow and fast, along with various high notes droning and scattered throughout. The bass isn't as audible as in the previous EP, but when you hear it, its tone is decent. The drummer does a good job keeping up, with the samples sounding adequate, and double-bass being occasional.
Faves: The final track, titled "Hell In Your Eyes", is oddly enough probably the best track on this EP, since it has the most variety in the guitar work and vocals. The song has some tremolo picking and hammer-ons here and there, which add a nice touch. And the release finishes with a bang of a breakdown. Speaking of which, the penultimate track, "Dream Master", has the heaviest breakdown on here. Finally, I'm not exactly sure what the theme of this EP is, but I'd have to guess that it has something to do with taking a trip through the underworld, or meeting your maker, of sorts. Also, this release makes for a brief yet worthy listen, clocking in at about 16 minutes only.
Cons/Negatives: The Plague King is not without its faults however. For one thing, the first two and a half minutes or so of this release consists of a long, drawn out audio clip, with lines from the film Halloween and some background noise thrown in. The first half of the EP doesn't do much in terms of variety or innovation — basically, if you've listened to a downtempo release prior to this one, then you've heard it before. Most of the structure consists of a chug-chug breakdown formula accompanied by high/low vocals throughout. When they do try something new, it usually doesn't last very long. As mentioned previously, the last two tracks contain the most variety of this entire release. The EP's titular track is arguably the most repetitive and dull, bringing little new to the table and just ultimately turning into a standard downtempo track. Lastly, I don't believe this EP has any guest features on it, as opposed to White Noise. It's not really a big deal, but it'd be interesting to hear at least one guest spot (they got Tyler Shelton on the previous EP). If there was one, then I'm not aware of it and I apologize, but I doubt there was.
The Verdict: In all, The Plague King EP by Beyond Deviation is a very brief, very subtle follow-up to White Noise that attempts to incorporate some essence of diversity in its sound. However, despite the varied improvements and new additions that the latest release offers, one may feel as though that it is not enough to make the band stand out from the countless others making music in their genre. But, aside from its faults, The Plague King demonstrates that this band is definitely competent and well capable of achieving progress...and, if small bouts of progress like this continue and these guys keep playing on their strengths and improving over time, then there is no doubt that they will have a potentially bright future ahead in the underground music scene.
**Beyond Deviation's sophomore EP titled The Plague King is available now HERE.
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Review by: Dave Raffy
-Musician, reviewer, fanatic & promoter
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