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Review published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
While Starkweather are not particularly prolific, when they do stagger into view, they carry a big fucking stick. After a 10-year hiatus, they returned with 2006’s blistering Croatoan, one of the best records of that year. And after a 4 year wait (though some of this material is from the Croatoan sessions) they have returned again with yet another slab of hard to define, crawling, cancerous metal.
Describing Starkweather is a tall task. While falling under the hardcore umbrella, their sound isn’t within the realms of any typical hardcore, though there are ties to the likes of Converge and Earth Crisis, with a darker, disturbing take on the genre. The seared heart of Starkweather is vocalist Rennie Resmini; his schizophrenic voice ranges from feral snarls, pained screams and a truly demented clean wails and croons. Throw in those vocals with some equally seething, lurching and off kilter riffs, and the result is truly disturbing and sickly.
Much like “Slither” opened Croatoan with a filthy fetid crawl, “Epiphany” delivers the same retching gait and oppressive, feedback laden lurch, setting the grim tone for the rest of the album. Where This Sheltering Night differs a little from Croatoan is the inclusion of several little ambient interludes between the full tracks; “Swarm”, “Transmit”, “Receive” and “Proliferate” provide haunting, delicate atmospherics between the long songs. And its good there are some breathers because songs like the almost 10 minute “Broken From Inside”, “All Creatures Damned and Divine (Inducing Motion Sickness)”, and “Martyring” are utterly draining. The festering riffs and psychotic vocal shifts make for an uneasy, nervous almost structure-less listen that has a tangible sense of dread and dementia that many bands, hardcore or otherwise simply can’t render.
Also on rare occasion (less than Croatoan), Starkweather deliver some clean but creepy moments of hideous beauty as highlighted in the otherwise gnarly lope of “One With Vermin” and “Bustari” where there’s injections of an almost flamenco undercurrent and some shimmery melodics beneath the bile hacking, fetid discordance.
As the album collapses with “Martyring” and aptly titled closing atmospheric “The End of All Things”, the listener will finally remember to breath and inhale deeply as if coming up for air after being submersed in water or being deep in a breathless dream. And not many bands can invoke that kind of physical reaction. Starkweather do it effortlessly and artistically.