Stass – ‘The Darkside’ (Mighty Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Phil Cooper   
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 04:00

Stass - The DarksideThe five-piece Swedish death metal band Stass came about after a chance meeting of lead singer Felix and guitarist Rogga of the bands Crematory and Paganizer.  A decision was reached to combine their ideas and styles of heavy, melodic metal and create a track list of original material.  The album ‘The Darkside’ is the result of that track list bringing forth ten original songs that contains the joint power of two heavy hitting metal bands.  What can Stass deliver?

 

Album opener, ‘Warriors Land’ kicks with a wash of distorted guitars and white noise before a punishing drum beat courtesy of Erik R Bevenrud accompanied by the dual guitars of Rogga and Kjetil Lynghaug provides the introduction as to what this band are about. Big, powerful, Viking drinking metal that fits the Scandinavian style along similar lines to Amon Amarth.  The guttural vocals of Felix and gut punch bass from Johan Berglund complete the line-up and with the full instrumentation combined it’s a heavy hitting sound on offer.  The relentless power of drums and guitar drives the song forward at a ferocious pace yet don’t overpower the melodic aspect. The dual guitar play is as intricate as it is raw and offers an extra textual layer during the breaks.

 

Track two ‘Crawling From Ashes’ offers a slight change in tempo from the predecessor thanks to a tribal drum groove from Bevenrud during the verse sections. Once again the guitars drive the melody side of the bands style and the bass thickens the texture allowing the vocals to cut through the top of the mix.  The manic breakdown sections shift the feel and pace of the track and certainly keep the sonic interest alive.

 

‘The Darkside’ continues in much the same vein as these opening tracks with Stass offering their brutal yet melodic hard-hitting style with tracks like ‘Forever Blind’ and ‘All Roads Lead To Hell’ which is the longest track available here coming in at just over six minutes and displaying the full talents of the band throughout. ‘The Burning’ offers some big vocal harmonies and layering of Felix’s voice and with the prominent addition of reverb as well as excellent mixing of the full instrumentation offers a highlight on the album.  

 

 

Closing track ‘The Host’ offers the biggest variation, with clean guitar work providing the introduction, and continuing through out the verse sections.  The vocals almost fall in to the spoken word category with Felix relinquishing the throat tearing style for a more restrained calmer approach which still contains just as much menace. The outro is made up a technical guitar phrases that complete a well-rounded solo cutting through the mix.

 

‘The Darkside’ doesn’t offer too much in the way of surprises when it comes to genre breaking song styling. Not predictable as such, it fits the death metal category and offers some technically excellent musicianship and well-constructed songs. The mixing and mastering is executed well as there is no muddying of the sound and all instrumentation can be clearly heard without anyone striving for the top spot. What it does offer is a showcase for Stass as a band that has a future and will hopefully be delivering more albums. 

 

If you’re a fan of Scandinavian death metal with a hefty side of melody included then this will fill a space in your record collection, and rightly so. It also offers a great gateway for anyone who wants to get involved in this genre. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to grab my drinking horn and turn ‘The Darkside’ up!

 

‘The Darkside’ is released on Friday 15 September.

 

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