BOLG: Plague Vaccine
Release year: 2018
Label: Hass Weg Productions
Bulgarian Bolg were formed already back in 2003, but it took them fifteen long years to finally get an album out. Prior to this album, they’ve only released one demo and a split, so they’re certainly not one of the most productive and active bands around. But better to take your time and make sure what you release is worth releasing, instead of pushing out every single thing you write and record, right?
Though thoroughly unoriginal, Bolg’s take on second wave/turn-of-the-millennium black metal is, luckily, far from crap. So the long gestation period doesn’t seem to have been entirely wasted.
Their bio says the band’s vision was originally to be an “old school oriented” band. Whilst their sound in this day and age is quite old school, back when they formed this kind of black metal was pretty run of the mill. Definitely nothing old school – in 2003 “old school” would have been something from the 80’s, early 90’s at the latest.
What you’re getting on Plague Vaccine are mainly speedy tempos, although not really breakneck speed, sawing melodic riffing, raw shrieks for vocals, the whole nine yards of black metal from 20 years ago. As a whole, Bolg don’t remind me of any specific band, but that doesn’t mean their sound is original: as already said, it’s not. If you listened to black metal then, every single moment on Plague Vaccine will feel very familiar.
But it’s not at least an exclusively negative remark, really. If you can accept the unoriginality, Plague Vaccine is a decent album. The songs are decent, the playing sounds reasonably tight, the vocals work, and the sound is good. It’s a nice trip down memory lane; in some ways, the familiarity of the album works for its benefit. Of course originality would enhance the album, and its absence prevents Plague Vaccine from being anything more than “nice”, but… well, it’s a nice album.
On a few occasions, Bolg manage to charm with a nice touch. The track Покров steals the intro riff from Mayhem’s classic Freezing Moon, which instantly sets a darkly morbid, mysterious tone for the track. Bolg’s shamelessness in copying the riff so directly makes the song feel like a tribute – not simple thievery. Romans, on the other hand, nods slightly towards a black-thrashing direction, which adds welcome diversity. It’s small things like these, which makes the unoriginality of Plague Vaccine acceptable.
Plague Vaccine is far from a great album, but it’s a competently done pastiche of the black metal of 20 years ago. As such, it’s hard to recommend the album very highly, but if that happens to be your era of choice, you could do far worse than at least check this out.