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Sri Lanka's best band EVER - 74%

The_Boss, July 29th, 2008

Sri Lanka isn’t exactly a country known for metal, nor known for anything really. So when I happened to come across this full length release, Silent Chaos Serpentine, I was certainly surprised to find out this was from Sri Lanka. They had a certain flair and weird combination of styles that isn’t exactly found a lot in metal; weird aggressive thrash mixed with semi-Gothenburg styled vocals overlapping with fun and melodic solos that highlight this to more of a distinct style. Even some weird ass flamenco/Spanish folky acoustic picking sections are thrown in on one song throwing a curve ball; like where the fuck did that come from? Is this Carlos Santana mixed with the guy from Krisiun??

Stigmata has a fairly unique style, although it’s nothing special nor way extreme, just a Gothenburg clone gone thrashy with some pretty decent vocals. Ranging from high falsettoes to some cruel and wicked sounding shrieks almost reminding me of Tim Ripper Owens at certain times although not quite as close to being talented in the falsetto department mixed with Alexi Laiho type growl/rasps. It seems like he’s attempting some ridiculous back and forth type vocal approaches, but I’d really prefer him to just choose. Not that it bothers me too much, it just seems to work better with just one solid style of singing because it seems like both together aren’t as powerful as they’d be as if they were alone, if that makes sense. The harsher vocals seem to work best with the music is faster tempo or more aggressive than the more mid paced approach of epic yet still aggressive, “tough guy” clean vocals almost. This being the first thing I noticed about Stigmata it’s nice to see though that he’ s dedicated enough to be seeming to put 110% into this.

The other highlight I noticed right off the bat are the highly melodic and blazing guitar solos. Almost harkening back to the days of 80’s Dave Mustaine it seems like these Sri Lankan boys have nailed the art of shredding; while still not overly flashy and overdone it works and makes for some awesome lead guitar work. Everything else works here, the drums are great adding more power and ‘oomph’ to the rhythmic section with fun double bass and energetic drum fills keeping the listener on their toes. The bass is a bit low in the mix not allowing much to add which is a slight disappointment because in thrash I think the bass is very important. While this isn’t straight up thrash, it would still have been nice to hear some wicked bass solos/fills stuff like that. The one lone time I hear the bass is the opening to Wingless, almost as if it was a power ballad. Otherwise this is just ordinary in that department. It seems that the production is decent but lacking in some areas. The mixing is done at a minimal level, although it’s probably very well done and good considering Sri Lanka’s metal shit isn’t how it is like in the USA or Sweden for example.

The songs off Silent Chaos Serpentine are very memorable, you won’t find very many chant or sing along type songs, there are very few epic choruses to remember and recite but it still makes for some good fucking thrash/melodic Gothenburg type mix. It’s definitly something that’ll keep you coming back, especially when you hear painfully melodic and epic shredding solos like the one from Jazz Theory; also featuring some weird Spanish type acoustic guitar sections… Another reason to make me wonder if they’re REALLY Sri Lanken; I thought the singer sounded like he was Italian or Swedish!

Songs like Swinemaker, the latter half of Wingless, My Malice make you raise your fist up high and start to headbang; in awe of the furious rhythm sections and fast guitar solos, while others like Jazz Theory and Forgiven, Forgotten make you sit back and listen to the wonderous melodic guitar shredding as if you’ve discovered Yngwie Malmsteen or Michael Romeo for the first time… it’s that cool. While Stigmata haven’t fully reached their mark in the metal community, they’re certainly on their way to becoming the best band out of Sri Lanka and probably the first to eventually get a major label nomination; I hope because they deserve it. Stigmata is a decent offering of aggressive Gothenburg inspired thrash especially in the heavier parts and great flow of melody in the amazing guitar solos mixed with the compromising rhythm parts of the drums and faster power/thrash type sections. I hope Stigmata keep up their trail that’ll lead them somewhere good because they have potential, I just hope they focus on themselves and try and make up their minds in certain aspects instead of having semi-scattered sounds and odd blending of sub genres to make some interesting songs; because the only real downside to Silent Chaos Serpentine is the unfocused generic blending of styles to make a ‘weird’ sound and for having the vocalist to choose to one style and stick with it. Otherwise, good luck finding a better Sri Lanken band!

Stigmata - Silent Chaos Serpentine - 69%

Technogoat, October 27th, 2006

When someone mentions Sri Lanka, it would be forgiven if you didn’t instantly link the country to the world of Metal music. In fact, with the ever-present threat of hostility between warring ethnic groups within the country (not to mention a cricket team that constantly underachieve) it is no wonder that Stigmata are one of the first Sri Lankan Heavy Metal bands to gain some recognition outside their homeland. “Silent Chaos Serpentine”, their second full-length album, certainly holds the potential ingredients for success on a larger scale. The band undoubtedly possesses plenty of talent: it is how they utilise it that will ultimately decide their fate.

Quite simply put, this album lacks a clear and focussed direction, instead amalgamating various genres into one awkward piece of work. At times, Stigmata sound like a Gothenburg style melodic Death Metal band, and then experiment by mixing this with a slightly harsher Thrash Metal approach, combined with the odd Power Metal ballad and some Spanish guitar interludes. Granted, such diversity should normally be loudly applauded, but the problem here is that for the most part all of the different genres mix together about as gracefully as Billy Milano doing ballet. Production-wise, the album retains a clarity which is unusually good for an act with an evidently limited budget. Still, it would be nice to hear how these tracks might have turned out had the band been given a larger recording budget and utilised the services of a well known Scandinavian studio. Basically, the overall sound isn’t going to blow anyone away, but at least its lucidity allows for an audible mix.

Opening track “Swinemaker” kicks things off in a melodic Death Metal style but with plenty of clean vocal passages, although they are rather monotonous and don’t quite fit the style perfectly. Still, there are plenty of catchy riffs and melodic guitar patterns to keep the listener interested. Many of the tracks that follow bring to mind the heaviness and melodic turns of US Metallers Nevermore, especially in the chunky rhythm sections of “Lucid” and the soaring and well-performed vocals of “Wingless”. Nonetheless, despite obvious musical proficiency and a lot of enthusiasm, the album comes off as nothing more than a well played bunch of songs that sound like bigger and decidedly better bands. Remember though, even the legendary Sepultura started out as little more than a Slayer and Celtic Frost copycat, so there’s a load of potential here.

There are stand out moments like those aforementioned, as well as a beautiful classical guitar passage midway through “Jazz Theory” and some wonderful lead guitar work in “My Malice”, but there aren’t really any songs which make you want to put this one on for repeated listens.

Stigmata have the potential to be much larger than they currently are, their niche as the first Sri Lankan Metal band most likely very tempting for one or two bigger labels in the market. If they can just focus their sound and refine some of the imperfections present on “Silent Chaos Serpentine”, hopefully finding their own unique style in the process, then album number three may well be one to watch out for.

Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk