Whenever I listen to an album, I try to see what I can gain from it, and that usually depends on how I am feeling week to week. It’s sometimes the reason why it takes me some time to listen to new music – it’s not the right time for me to dive in. Now, post-metal has been making a comeback in my listening rotation, and I am surprised by the melody it has implemented since I last heard some of it many years ago. In the case of Flood Peak, they have managed to blend post-metal with elements of drone and sludge to create a haunting record that recalls the inconsistency of life and its routines.
For someone who has been experiencing a lot of upheaval these last couple of months, Plagued by Sufferers is a balm to my weary soul.
Plagued by Sufferers is one of those albums that exists to both soothe and scare us depending on when you listen to it. At night, when you are most vulnerable, the music soothes, allowing the listener to simply soak up the atmosphere and the various melodic overtones that continue to push towards the listener’s subconscious. It’s almost like feeling the deep bass when standing next to an amp – its potency vibrates throughout the entire body, a miasmic feeling that doesn’t go away for a while. It almost feels like you are being hypnotized; there is warmth and a vibrancy underneath those melodious tones. However, during the day, those tones become slow, punishing, as if you weren’t meant to hear this during the day. The song “Mire” is the epitome of slow and punishing – even though there is a lot of melody, the vocals and guitars drag, its haunting tones becoming more viscous with each passing second. The atmosphere is thick with reverb and distortion, and it feels like you are slowly sinking into quicksand.
I also didn’t expect Plagued by Sufferers to be so melodic. I seem to find myself fascinated by the groovier aspects of post-metal, as dense as it can be. It was a surprise when, as you approach the end of the album, in the last few minutes of “Veiled by Summoners,” it becomes lighter and groovier, as if there were footing at the bottom of the mire. It feels like you can move through it before the dread and the muck settles into you, freezing you in place. This change in tone feels like a kick to the gut, as you were expecting the album to be nicely tied up at the end by the melody that seemed so pervasive throughout the album. However, don’t forget that sludge also takes precedence, and this tone is evident as the calamity of the music becomes heightened by the chaotic drumming and the rapid-fire, syncopated beat of the guitars. The final two minutes of the song is chaos incarnate, leaving the listener breathless as the album reaches completion, the distortion becoming the last thing you hear before the album begins again.
All in all, Plagued by Sufferers is an album whose haunting nature will leave you breathless yet comforted. I wasn’t lying when I said this album is inconsistent within its scope; the music changes in how you perceive it and what you choose to take out of it. Although it’s quite short for a sludge record, they do so much in the 31 minute run time that it’s almost impressive to consider what they can do if they had a longer run time. I expect to see more of them in the future, and I will definitely be looking into what they decide to do next.