I love music that can be described as “not easy listening.” I also love music that is predominantly bat-shit crazy and since their inception in 2016 Melbourne, Australia’s purveyors of fucked-up scientific psychedelia, Plasmodium, have succeeded in creating mind and ear-challenging music that requires a good few listens to process.
It’s generally this kind of music that is always interesting to write about, what with its almost free-form expression and unorthodox nature, it’s chocked full of nuance even when it seems like it’s just straight-up unhinged. They are the type of band to garner reviews like “it’s not for everybody” and “WTF…”. Sophomore album Towers of Silence will no doubt gain its share of awe-struck and dumbfounded criticism, which I’m certain the Aussies have set out to achieve.
The droning hum of “ParaMantra” leads the album with a sudden noisy interruption of blasting drums and feedback-heavy guitars with so much speedy twiddling they barely come across as audible. Csihar-like grating rasps penetrate throughout the track displaying the many vocal gymnastics of the mysterious frontman… goodness knows who this specifically is as out of their five members only the role of drummer has been confirmed. This track and “Churning”, Plasmodium’s death-metalised “St. Anger” could have used a splicing job and made into one mutant piece as the latter is more of an extension of the former with nothing new to add.
There’s a lot to digest already and takes a keen ear to keep up with the maelstrom of riffs and quaking skin-beating. The first two tracks already seem a little rougher than the music on their first release and seem a little out of place compared to the forthcoming lengthier three. The atmosphere-packed slow-burner “Pseudocidal” is where things get wonderful and rapidly the band take you down a long and unsettling path of ominous, eerie background noise and burgeoning drum patterns. The song climaxes to a crescendo of dizzying riffs and percussive pounding before treating us to over a minute of disconcerting, gnawing insect sounds.
“Translucinophobia” is by far the best track here and at 18 minutes long you can imagine the breadth of audial fuckery on offer. The first 5 minutes are fairly bog-standard with charging, galloping drums, alien-like vocals and the usual fiddly riffage. The track breaks off into silence and an array of perplexing, seemingly random sounds lead us into 12 minutes of blastbeating death metal chaos.
The vocals grow more intense, more augmented and vitriolic, carrying pure venom throughout the song. Cymbals clatter and collide, guitars seethe and flay with insurmountable hooks. If only you could hear them properly! The speed cranks to eleven with barely room to breathe with even the final moments of growling terror building to one last wild hit of screeching riffs and blastbeat mayhem. It’s a track that shows no respite nor remorse. Peel open your ears and listen carefully to every note of this damn song and you will appreciate it as a rip-roaring classic.
Final track “Vertexginous” is all about immersing yourself in the soundscape of fear, opening with warped string work, cruel voices and screams. The guitars creep into a more twisted avant-garde form with angular dissonant riffs, tremolos and ever-changing drum patterns. The song and album are capped off with several minutes of jarring and eclectic ambience and a mini out of left field blast frenzy that fades to its sudden conclusion just moments after starting. Plasmodium are the definition of ‘expect the unexpected’ and their unique brand of undulating psychedelic darkness is honestly not everyone’s cup of tea, and if it is, then that cup is likely laced with LSD and bleech.
Towers of Silence is a touch more in-depth and intricate than its predecessor Entheognosis, which I also reviewed, and explores more the chasms of horror that dark sound like this creates. Entheognosis was slightly more well-produced in its crisper sound and played out like Jesse Pinkman’s feverous meth dreams. Towers of Silence sounds raw and dirty as though it were recorded live in one take and is like waking to a real nightmare of abysmal horrors. It is, I dare say, a little more restrained and honed than Entheognosis.
This is by far not an easy listen but Towers of Silence is nonetheless a whirlwind ride of devouring chaotic textures and dense, layered dimensions of filthy, rotten noise spewed out by some twisted minds. I described their first release as a ‘genre rule breaker’. Plasmodium continue to break and redefine sound and astonish with their ever-growing musical balls.
You can purchase Towers of Silence here.