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Ushering Old School into the Modern Era... - 84%

Conceived_in_Chaos, March 3rd, 2012

Rather than pull away from early death metal roots, this band not only stuck to them but thrived off of the rich soil of riff work and skill that the subgenre has come to encompass. Inject a “healthy” dose of blackened venom and you get the idea of the sound that Stillborn is going for on this album (imagine a cross between Vader and Tsjuder). Slightly betraying the vintage quality, the band displays an ability to smoothly integrate a variety of slick techniques throughout the course of ten tracks. All techniques are done in fair taste, and are used to vividly color each track. The fourth track: Antonym, for example, shows the guitarist’s ability to seamlessly intersperse strange sounding diminished and suspended chords with hard hitting chugging lines. The end result is a track that leaves you with a feeling of being chased through a twisted labyrinth by platoon of undead soldiers. The band certainly leaves the door open for songwriting methods beyond just the classic death metal realm.

Regarding the individual instruments, all are handled with great proficiency and aplomb. The band displays their abilities, traits, and chops (or whatever else you want to call it) through the course of album. In the case of Stillborn it’s best to pick a singular song in which to reference, as they do maintain a signature sound throughout the LP. I could think of no better track to sum up the instrumentation in Los Asesinos del Sur as a whole than the final song: Whore of the Whores. This track consists of a lot of searing tremolo picked lines, which is interplayed with a lot of oppressive palm muted riffage. This is laced with frenzied, weaving guitar lines that seem to come from left field (believe me… THIS IS A GOOD THING!). The vocals in this track range from a deep, militaristic bark to a piercing black metal screech (sometimes the two are layered together); this is peppered with a spoken line or two. Underlying this is drum work that is on point and varied. One moment you’ll hear the machine-gun like pummeling of double bass drums and the next, you’ll lays ears to a pelting drum fill. The bass is unfortunately really low in the mix, but it follows the guitar appropriately when it is heard. A lot of the songs follow in a similar fashion – displaying the band’s ability to consistently create devastating yet catchy pieces.

As far as the sound quality of the album - it is simply suitable for the style that Stillborn plays. The guitars definitely have a raw tinge to them, and the drums are punchy without out sounding too modern (no typewriters for bass drums here!). The vocals are mixed so that they are loud enough to be heard clearly without drowning out the rest of the instruments while they are in play. The bass as mentioned previously - is really low in the mix; this is probably due to the trebly production on this album. Overall, the production does lend Stillborn a gritty edge here – which makes for a fun listen in long run!

I will say that at the end of the listening experience I was pleasantly- if not- LARGELY surprised by Stillborn in this outing. This band is definitely one that deserves greater recognition; they not only expose the true essence of the extreme metal scene but they also add enough personal touch to the music to keep it interesting. This is must listen for anyone who likes a bit of modern refinement with an aural ass beating. Recommended tracks include: Diamonds of the Last Water, Antonym, Blood Dust, and… Oh hell, pretty much the rest of the album!