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Stam1na - SLK (2014)
Quote:So here we are in 2014. Two years after the release of the critically acclaimed "Nocebo", an album that managed to turn the heads of metalheads outside of Finland as far away as on the North American continent.
What "SLK" is an abbreviation for I cannot tell you, not being a native Finn myself. But it should be known that this is a band that has always had a tendency to come up with clever word play and metaphorical meanings behind their song and album titles. I'm sure "SLK" is no different in this regard. Now on to the actual album.
The album kicks off in classic Stam1na fashion with energetic opener "Rautasorkka" (Finnish for iron-mouth). "Rautasorkka" is a blisteringly fast yet melodic song. There is a beautiful and melancholic guitar lead guiding this song all the way from the verse into the chorus and the lead is even present in the bridge of this song. There is some piano play behind the melodic layering adding some further depth to the harmonic soundscape of this song. The riffs are thrashy and hectic, yet have a playful and groovy vibe to them. It doesn't take long on this album for Stam1na to show of their technicality and impressive instrumental chops, although "Rautasorkka" is pretty straight to the point and obviously put first on the album in order to hook the listener. The chorus is absolutely beautiful on "Rautasorkka" and this song is probably one of their best songs ever. Absolutely amazing. The next song on the album is the alternative rock-inspired "Kalmankansa". Which has a very catchy chorus and lots of stock alt-rock riffs in the verse. Which sound a bit too basic to fit on a Stam1na song. This song does however have some busier technical riffs and a pretty spastic sounding bridge. But overall this is a pretty standard song and can basically be considered filler compared to the rest of the content on this album.
The next song called "Panzerfaust" is one of the clear highlights on this album. Perhaps the heaviest Stam1na track to date. Just as the title suggests this song is heavy as fuck, the rhythms of the guitars and drums roll over you like a battle tank. The guitar leads are eerie and ominous. Hyrde really delivers some guttural death growls here, at least by Stam1na's standards. The breakdown is glorious and immediately brought to mind the likes of heavyweights "Gojira" and their mammoth groove riffs. This track will have you banging your head, that's for sure. "Panzerfaust" ends in a really cool fashion with gang shouts from the members of Stam1na saying "PANZER! ... FAUST!"... After this track the album sadly starts dropping in quality as the material starts sounding rehashed from their earlier works. The new and unitiated listener probably won't complain much about this fact. But as a seasoned Stam1na listener I immediately started hearing some filler and already treaded territory from their past coming through on the following songs. "Kuoliaaksi Ruoskitut Hevoset" while not necessarily bad, sadly sounds like B-side material from the "Raja"-sessions back in 2008. Filler are as we all know - for the most part - unavoidable on most metal albums. This track and all the way through to "Dynamo" are kinda forgettable. There are some heavy duty riffs and impressive lead work and solos on "Masiina", it has a very catchy and headbangable bridge. But it lacks overall direction and just kind of fades into the background after a while. These mid-album cuts are at the very most growers and at the very least to be considered inferior to the true standouts on this album. Like "Rautasorkka", "Kylma Kuuma Kylma" and "Panzerfaust".
This album has really good choruses and this fact is something that gives the album a lot of immediate replayability. I find myself singing along to and enjoying the refrains on "SLK" a lot. This album in general is a lot like "Raja" from 2008 in this regard. Technical riffs and lead work in the verses and bridges, and big, powerful hooks for the refrains to pull you in. Does this mean Stam1na have become more streamlined and adopted more of a pop-metal approach? Not necessarily. Catchy choruses that remind you of modern melo-deth metal bands and records have always been present in their sound. They've just become so damn good at writing them they've started taking up more room in the songs and become a focal point more than ever before. Some tracks on here have kind of a punk rock/garage approach to them, like "Heikko Ehka". Other tracks meddle in majestic guitar leads and progressive/power melodies. Most notably "Dynamo" and "Usko Pois". This album is just as versatile as most of their earlier albums, although Stam1na's general sound only allows for so much experimentation after all these years. Most bands have somewhat of a formula to them and as such you kind of know what's coming and what type of progression between songs is natural for a particular band. Stam1na is no different in this regard. Although I think it wouldn't have hurt them to step outside their comfort zone a bit more than they did on this album. Or in the future their formula will become too tiresome and they will lose much of what makes them unique now in favor of other newer, more innovative bands making a name for themselves in the metal scene.
The production is excellent here. It's very likely Stam1na took a few hints and lessons from Joe Barresi who produced the previous Stam1na album "Nocebo". That album had the best Stam1na production to date. This album is of similar quality. The rhythm guitars and drums are rough and thunderous in all the right places, while the lead guitars shine brilliantly through the melodic soundscape with a crisp and neat tone to them. Hyrde's vocals are in superb shape and his yelling sounds powerful and commanding while his soft vocals and singing has harmony and clarity to them. This is state-of-the-art production for a metal album in this style.
Overall. "SLK" serves as a great introduction to new listeners of this band. Much like "Nocebo" this album is an intricate mix of progressive and melodic thrash/groove metal with just a hint of pop metal sensibility. Seasoned listeners and fans may however be slightly disappointed at the lack of innovation and experimentation compared to what previous albums like "Uudet Kymmenen KÃ¤skyÃ¤" delivered many years ago.
Stam1na are obviously maturing and finding comfort in their signature sound. This leaves listeners with one crucial question. Is it really enough? - Metal Archives
Place Of Origin: Lemi, Finland
Release Year: 2014
Ripping Source: CD
Label: Sakara Records
Catalog Number: SKR-040 DLX
Ripped With: EAC (Secure And Test) with LOG and CUE
4 Kuoliaaksi Ruoskitut Hevoset
6 Heikko EhkÃ¤
8 KylmÃ¤ Kuuma KylmÃ¤
9 Usko Pois
10 Kolmen Minuutin Hiljaisuus
Tamaño: 325.64 MB