It’s always good to see young shoots grow into mighty oaks, as the saying goes, and its pleasing to report this of Durham/Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based death metal oiks Plague Rider. They released their original demo ‘Genetic Devolution‘ in 2011 which while showing great potential was spoiled a bit by its production values, which even for demo standards was a bit on the loud side and perhaps hid what the band were trying to offer. Now back and with much better production and a slicker overall product, their self-titled, self-released debut album is a tour-de-force and miasmic mix of old school death metal values given a modern, and at times technical flourish. There are some superb moments to behold, be in hammerhead title-track, the complex riffage of tracks such as ‘Subconscious Entrapment’, and the monstrous slow groove they drop into during ‘Universal Suffocation’, as satisfying as when Morbid Angel unloaded ‘Where the Slime Live’ on us. Fans of bands such as Death, Pestilence, and indeed newer tech-death bands like Obscura will find a lot of joy here, and hopefully 2014 will be the year of significant progress for this band, where there’s every chance of them stamping down a marker for their growing reputation within the thriving UK extreme scene.