The worst thing about being a reviewer is not disliking an album; we all have differing tastes and opinions after all. No, it’s when you struggle to find the words to describe music that has zero impact on you. You listen to it repeatedly, you concentrate on it and yet still the empty page stares back, daring you to lose your cool.
According to the press pack, Stigmhate are an Italian band who play a Swedish influenced black metal but with a ‘more oppressive and obscure atmosphere’. Apocalyptic. Brutal. End of the world stuff. Hmm. Well.
This is reasonably fast paced, and loud. These guys show a high degree of professionalism and musical ability and for that they should not only be commended but taken seriously. But brutal? This is death/black that is about as pristine as an ultra modern kitchen showroom and so the only brutal thing would be the price tag. The production is slick and shiny, the drums are a relentless metronome lending a sub-industrial feel to it, the vocals standard death. Think Anaal Nathrakh wiped clean with antiseptic and none of the bite or the malevolence. The songs are all of a pace that seems to have no real variation throughout and so the whole blends into this blinding white wall that hurts your eyes with its uniformity. There is no sense of travel and no crescendo, so no apocalypse falling. I get no sense of subtleties lurking or the shifting of moods. It is simply there. The sun never collapses it simply ends.
Modern and cold can work; Dodheimsgard/DHG, Aborym, ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ period Satyricon et al for example, but they also had better and individual songs, hooks, atmosphere and for me that is where this album fails to connect.
Honestly it hurts me to be so unmoved because there is no doubting the effort on display here. These gentlemen can play and want to be heard but I don’t even know who to recommend this album to.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe fans of blackened death with this kind of clinical sound and technical precision will find something here to enjoy. But for me, despite some good musicianship (particularly the guitars) it simply is unfortunately generic, quite fast modern death/black metal with a chrome production that ends up sounding hollow and the shine fades the more I play it.