Plague Vendor erupted onto the scene with their spastic and short debut, Free To Eat; released via Epitaph Records in 2014. The record front to back was 18 minutes long, showcasing a raw and youthful spirit in the blistering punk songs. Each song was a spiraling groove with erratic vocals freely flowing over top. Free To Eat‘s garage punk featured things that Plague Vendor had been writing since 2008. Now they are beyond the small, two minute stepping stones of old and into a whole new territory of seasoned, unpolished yet coherent punk music.
BLOODSWEAT starts with a hazy delivery from vocalist Brandon Blaine, as if in a trance thanks to the rhythmic pulse from the guitars and bass. As the chorus of “Anchor To Ankles” boils up, Blaine and company unleash gigantic sounds, whether it be from the full guitar chords or visceral screams blowing steam from Blaine’s throat. It’s punk music married with intelligent dynamics that bleed into most of the songs on the record, and the honeymoon is to the nearest mud pit to wrestle Plague Vendor in in. Take “Ox Blood,” for example. The song’s power is built up into sludgy progressions, but not before the build hovers along with guitar notes softly plucked alongside Blaine’s coos. It showcases how much Plague Vendor have matured with their sound instead of viciously speeding through their songs. However, the songs still possess the nakedness of raw punk talent that gained attention in the first place.
Much like its predecessor, BLOODSWEAT still features stripped down performances from the band. Every instrument is crystal clear in the mix, without too much overdubbing or layering needed. It is a simplistic approach that burns each new part into the listener’s head thanks to the raw and straight forward sound. “Credentials” features a catchy riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a synth heavy pop song, but the fuzzy guitar texture and bellowing bass keep it rabid and fervent, with Blaine’s voice commanding the booming chorus. “Saturday Night Shakes” plays like an old timey garage band song, but calloused with the band’s expressive attitude it is transformed into a bouncy punk tune. Across the record, the buzzing tones from Jay Rogers’ six string cut through the Michael Perez’s roaring bass and snare heavy playing from Luke Perine. These tones mesh well, fusing together to form one great 35 minute cathartic release.
On top of the instrumentals, Blaine’s lucid and powerful vocal presence sparks a fire in the songs. “Chopper” showcases his ability to turn conscious ramblings into harmonious vocal lines, full of his own passion and personality. His mannerisms are vomited through his mouth and into the microphone, giving each song a unique character and different atmosphere, “I am creating chaos on my own” he blurts out on “Chopper.” The energy seeping out of each vocal line is animated into a passionate atmosphere, sounding as if Blaine is right in the room spilling his guts to you. “Got It Bad” isn’t too far off from that image. Blaine recorded the tune in one take, with an excessive amount of layers on, drawing his energy from the heat to bring a five and a half minute, beautifully sincere vocal performance. Every breath of air is heard, giving a listener a taste of the vulnerable and emotionally riveting energy Blaine put into the performance. You can even here him shiver and shake through his words. It’s this type of zest that many artists would skip over to sound more polished, but fuck that. This is Plague Vendor, and BLOODSWEAT is a raunchy record rivaling every over punk anthem with honest excitement embedded into 11 songs that make you dance, sweat and lose your mind too.