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Heavy metal has been a constant rebellion in the past decades, bringing many angered and pissed off people together, using the music to get rid of anger and rage, accumulated across the years. Black and death metal are two genres of the more extreme, taking the classical heavy metal sound into new hights (and sadly so many times into new lows). STILLBORN is one of those bands which is somewhere in between, trying to keep the extreme heavy metal spirit alive. That alone is respectable.
STILLBORN apparently is a blasphemic, modern black metal/death metal hybrid band from Poland, which plays in the vein of the oldschool masters, such as CELTIC FROST or VENOM, but with an extremely fierce sound, resembling BEHEMOTH or VADER. Their newest release is rather short in length, merely reaching 25 minutes. To top it off, this release seems to contain several covers of classical heavy metal bands, the only difference is that they are extreme death/black metal versions of their original nature. Now, there may be nothing wrong to pay homage to your favorite bands, but this release incorporates own songs, with the cover songs in between. That itself not only creates a sort of an alleged superior preeminence, but also reduces the credibility of the band's intentions, pure of not. It only brings out that either the band's new material was awfully scarce or they were as uninspired to combine cover versions with new songs, mix them up, instead of simply make an EP with some bonuses on it.
The quality of the CD is de facto very good, one can clearly identify every instrument with a trained ear, but the bass is as always very mushy and goes under, but that's not a very big problem, since it's clearly present. The guitar riffs are fierce, soli are present, but a little bit too short and the voice is raspy, but not too powerful. The overall ambiance is a very strange one, like most other artists who try to mix genres and create something new. While Stillborn don't completely manage to scar my ears and leave them bleeding, they surely aren't that revolutionary as they seem to proclaim. "Esta rebelion es eterna" is Spanish for "This rebellion is eternal" (which is really not a great problem to find out for oneself, whether or not one has to use the estar form or not, is a topic we'll have to leave for the grammar experts). Their own songs have a nice feeling to them, compared with so many other up to date bands who sound like a copy of a copy and although their sound is nothing refreshing by any standards, it also is not terrible, it's just... bland at certain parts. Although the guttural and extremely fast and chaotic, modernly distorted versions of the old school heavy metal classics on this album are not awful, they are, let's say interesting at best. But one can only hope that they will resort to playing covers only live, or as real bonuses, because with no real stable material of one's own, one can not reach the legendary status of a real "rebellion". At least the lyrical themes of their normal material are adequate: satanic and blasphemous.
As an overall view: this CD is neither great, now incredibly stupid and boring. It is somewhere in between, and fans of death/black hybrid bands will certainly find this very amusing.
(Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com/)