This download-EP is the debut of Plaguewielder, a project from the same artist whose work I've previously heard through the album "Dance of the Twilight Stars," released under the name Hoyland.
Ambient is still the name of the game, but the emphases and atmospheres are very different from the artist's works as Hoyland. The music of Plaguewielder is strongly dark and gloomy ambient with something I perceive to be a medieval undertone - a constant presence of rotting death.
The songs are built in a slow-paced and minimalistic fashion where each note counts. Luckily the artist handles his craft and, despite the minimalism occasionally ranging to almost silent moments, the atmospheres don't start to sound dull, too thin or repetitive at any point. The synths are employed as a versatile mixture of different kinds of ominous tones; from harsh low-pitches to darkly ethereal and gloomy higher notes playing in the distance, the soundscape is versatile but still unified. The strong drum-sounds serve as a great dramatic add with their powerful rhythms, and at times they deliver an "explosion" to shake up the soundscape and make sure the listener stays awake, so to say.
The vocals are one of the key things that bring this EP a lot of personality and depth. Amidst the layers of nicely vast and pleasingly professional-sounding (but certainly not too polished! the layers are vivid, but carry the smell of rotting human flesh) ambient-keys there lies gurgles, snarls and other effect-like vocal sounds. They are heavily processed and fittingly inhumane to suit the EP's theme, and their distorted sound also helps them to better fit amidst the synth-notes. I think that the EP would sound way less effective and appealing without them, as in a way, they summarize the thematic points of death into an undead and inhuman sound travelling among the atmospheric synth-sounds.
As far as ambient-EPs go, this one's a really strong one - and especially so for a debut release. Now that Plaguewielder have built a strong musical and thematical foundation for their works, it's time to take things further; to search for more original and affective synth-sounds, maybe even samples, and to generally bring something bolder and more listener-intrusive to the setting. There are a multitude of ways to enhance the grim and death-smelling moods and atmospheres; now Plaguewielder needs to find the ones that are the most suitable, fresh and powerful to further develop their expression. I'm already curious for the project's future output.