When Midnight Strikes!
posted on 4/2008 By:
Now this is a pleasant surprise. Amongst a spate of fairly average offerings in the deathcore genre of late, Italy’s Stigma are a breath of fresh air. Taking its lyrical inspiration from 50’s horror films, When Midnight Strikes! is a refreshingly fun slice of fast, melodic death metal that combines the sounds from a range of eras and styles in interesting ways. You’ll hear all sorts of influences in Stigma’s sound, from the speed-and-scream of The Black Dahlia Murder, to the rousing fist-in-the-air choruses of Amon Amarth, and the metalcore sounds of Heaven Shall Burn and their ilk. Added to this is a big dollop of melodic, classic metal that really works well.
The first thing to strike you (sorry) about Stigma is the intensity and infectious energy coursing through every song on this album. From beginning to end, there’s hardly any slow moments and none of the songs outstay their welcome. There’s no doubt the musicianship is solid, with impressive variety and skill displayed in the riffs, tempos, vocal delivery and lead work. Although Stigma have a certain lightheartedness in terms of subject matter, they’re definitely not a joke band. Unless you knew you were listening to songs called "I Am Dracula" and "To Be Really Dead... That Must Be Glorious!", you probably wouldn’t pick up on the band’s sense of humor, such is the no-nonsense delivery of the music.
There’s also a fair bit of the mosh factor on When Midnight Strikes!, but don’t let that put you off. Indeed, the numerous breakdowns are some of the more interesting and effective I’ve heard in quite a while, and best of all don’t sound completely out of place when they occur. The aforementioned "To Be Really Dead…" is an album standout, featuring a surprising but gloriously melodic ending complete with twin Maiden-esque guitars. But also listen out for the Scandinavian thrash of "Flesh Ritual" and the truly vicious "Walking the Fields of Apocalypse".
Stigma have delivered the goods with When Midnight Strikes!. Fans of European death metal who aren’t bothered by a few breakdowns should warm to this album. It successfully works in its seemingly disparate influences in a way that’s cohesive and palatable. Best of all, Stigma proudly wear their love of camp horror on their sleeves without ever sounding silly or contrived. When Midnight Strikes! is a solid effort and a lot of fun.
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