Dungeon synth transports the listener back to the 1500s when heads on stakes and fire pits melted away generations of serfs over cold and desolate nights. Coming as a shock in this styling, is Powerplant, the London-based punks who now, transition into an equally perplexing and engaging ride with Stump Soup.
The strange usage of power changes hands many times but is never destroyed. Now, Powerplant decides to inflict damage through another form of torture without ever becoming a shouting match with the audience. Instead, Stump Soup is a perfect hour-long descent into madness and warlock-based hymns.
With 20 songs, Stump Soup is actually an easier-to-digest beast than what appears at first moments. Powerplant’s way of transitioning tracks and keeping a permanent flow within the stylings keeps the listener engaged without primal focusing. Opening with “The Stump,” a perfect precursor to a record with ties to being somehow cultish but also on the cutesy side at times.
“The Stump” is this ogrish and monstrous of an instrumental where the lumbering synths swing back and forth with little to no variation. As the pads layer on, “The Stump” is this alter to give thanks to. With music stemming from Theo Zhykharyev, the instructions “Listen only at night” are inscribed on Powerplant’s BandCamp page.
Peeling back the layers like some ancient sarcophagus holding seven evil curses for generations to come, Stump Soup is a witch’s brew of assorted factors. First, the pieces like “White Keys” or “Pixie GF” sound as if they could be replicated within the Sega Genesis as the album’s foundation.
“Pixie GF” especially is able to encapsulate whimsical strolls through an enchanted forest while also managing a nostalgic emotional draw. The instrumental here is adorable and reminiscent of something from Bubble Bobble, a 1986 platform game where you “…control Bub and Bob, two dragons set out to save their girlfriends from a world known as the Cave Of Monsters.”
As Stump Soup continues on through the 20 step adventure, dismal pieces like “Nothing Good Shall Ever Change Here” becomes the norm for Stump Soup where this track is believed to be the only track with narration longer than five seconds.
In direct opposition to an iron lung pumping oxygen, Stump Soup drains the air out of the room and becomes menacing with each note pressed. “Nothing Good Shall Ever Change Here” borders on the line of black metal undertones as images of charred and unidentifiable corpses lay in a wake.
One foot sinks into the grave and the other placed neatly on a banana peel where “Rocking The Crypt” becomes one last look at Stump Soup before the coffins close. Similar to “The Stump” where the lumbering nature is a multi-faceted identity for Powerplant. Working in angles of reverbed percussion and almost overpowering leads on pads, “Rocking The Crypt” is harrowing but also a tribal revival in some aspects of sound.
Come hungry and leave full, Stump Soup is a fantastic orchestration of dungeon synth from a completely left-field operation. Surprising in almost every way, Powerplant scribbles their name in some dusty old tree with the same sword King Arthur pulled from Herefordshire’s Golden Valley.