The Plague
Crown of Thorns   (Dec, 2000) 

An odd name, to be sure, and musically, this bay area outfit aren't easily classifiable either.  Goth rock at its core, the band incorporates industrial dance, trance and middle-eastern elements into the formula with a fairly high degree of success.


The album opens well with "Invocation," a lesson in subtlety where the Mediterranean vocal melodies weave a spell to counter the hypnotic drums and guitar lines.  Diana Blackwell's vocals are at their peak on this track - very nice.  "Cage" is a slightly more typical electro-goth number and it works quite well, though "Underground" is less outstanding, relying a little too much on the driving bassline to sustain it for over six minutes.


Probably the most memorable track is "Fuck Christianity," which the name alone endeared the band to me immediately.  Lyrically, Diana doesn't mince words here, going straight to the (black) heart of a corrupt religion, even using a number of direct quotes from the Bible to illustrate how ridiculous it is.  Musically, this one is a bit simple and cheesy, but it's still fun.  "Dildo" is nearly as memorable, with a rubbery beat and highly affected vocals, not to mention some amusing lyrics.


Sadly, the quality of the music doesn't carry over to the album art.  The graphic design on Crown of Thorns is gaudy to say the least, which is ironic since the envelope the album was mailed in was decorated quite beautifully.  A minor complaint though, as the music is the most important thing and there are some definite diamonds in the rough here.  I must also say I appreciate the band's effort to diversify the tracks, giving each one its own sound - a rare trait these days. More info: -- Daniel Hinds


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Odor of Pears 2004, Rev: 02/10/04