Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Stolnecker - Seize The Day (2010)

This opening may sound harsh at first, but I assure you, I have good intentions.

This album would test your attitude as an avid music listener.
- Would you be willing to listen to an unknown band?
- Would you be willing to listen to an album made up of three songs, one of which is almost 30 minutes long and the two others, longer than 10 minutes?
- Would you invest your time in a self-released album?

I think it’s clear that for me the answers to all of these are in the form of “Of course / Obviously / Why shouldn’t I?”.

The album in question here has all of the above “criteria” and is by the New York band Stolnecker, who play a progressive and exploratory form of metal; not the fancy and flashy type that most people think of, but the gritty, heavy and eclectic kind. The band consists of the trio of: Mike Capasso (guitars, bass, keyboards), Bill Angelini (drums) and J. Merkin (vocals).

The songs played on here each follow a theme that is developed and explored in various levels of intensity and contain several sections that are seamlessly intertwined. The pace for the most part is slow to mid-paced. An atmosphere of doom metal and folk is evoked quite frequently. The progressiveness here being the manner in which the songs are constructed and developed form one point to the next. The music itself reminded me mostly of Agalloch in their Pale Folklore and The Mantle era in its atmosphere, in the style of guitar playing (as well as use of an acoustic guitar backing up the electric guitar), in the shifting vocal styles and the style of music itself (in the mid part of A Song Of Sorrow in particular). There were also "hints" of Opeth on the second piece, All Of My Heart.
The vocals by J. Merkin shift between a clean singing style and a sludge-metal scream type of singing (think Neurosis and Isis).
The sound is not perfect and does not transfer along well the dynamics of the music, which shift from the loud and heavy to the calm acoustic sections. But to my ears, that doesn’t detract from the impact of the music, which is for the most part exciting and captivating.

And so, to come back to the questions that started this review, I think you would be amiss to miss out on this release. While not perfect and not without flaws, it contains stimulating metal, of the kind that doesn’t count on technical showmanship or any sort of extravaganza, but on taking simple musical ideas (not necessarily original ones, as the influences are discernible, but then who is original?) and building from them prolonged compositions, in an attempt to achieve something beyond what these ingredients amount to individually. Me personally, I enjoy the music on this album a lot. I am attracted by the Agalloch similarities as well as by the way they create a vast coherent piece by theme development and exploration. Try it out, but with patience and attention.

You can listen to the songs on their Myspace, though I hope they would open a Bandcamp page for themselves.

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