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Starkweather - Croatoan - 2006 - Candlelight Records

Track Listing
1. Wildling
2. Taming Leeches With Fire
3. Slither
4. Bitterfrost
5. Hushabye: Goodnight
6. Vespertilian
7. Machine Rhythm Guitar Confessional
8. Silken Garotte/The Infinity Coil
Of the many age-old comebacks in this new millennium (of which there are many) and of all the past year or two’s new signings to Candlelight Records (of which there are equally as many) Starkweather rank as one of the most peculiar. Metalheads today tend to think of metalcore as a relatively new malaise taken up by the discontent teenage population as the successor to grunge alternative, but Starkweather have been playing metalcore (more or less) since some of those kids were born, all the way back in 1989.

Even more peculiar, when Emperor came to the US to play two exclusive venues this past July, the opening bill for those black metal legends included this very band of wife-beater-sporting, middle-aged thugs from east Pennsylvania. As one might expect, the crowd was ambivalent. Some, (such as myself, a lucky attendee) intrigued by their experience and history, found their set to be a fresh perspective, if not the most enjoyable I’d ever seen. Others were less kind, heckling them and booing. Those two opinions, one lukewarm, the other benignly disinterested at best, seem to form the general opinion of the public regarding Starkweather.

‘Croatoan’ marks the first release from the band in a decade— ‘Into the Wire’ being their last release in 1995— and despite the space between the two, Starkweather’s music has remained essentially unchanged. Plodding, irresolute riffs with rabidly uncomfortable vocals, loosely classifiable as metalcore, but also equal parts hardcore and sludge—‘epicore’, I described it to one companion at Emperor that night in July.

And it is indeed epic. The average song here is nearly seven minutes, crawling through dissonant riffs, Rennie Resmini’s tremulous clean vocals and choked, barking growls that are on the one hand fascinating and unique and on the other grating and amateur. Most songs on ‘Croatoan’ do not feature the standard ‘verse/chorus/verse’ progression, which is a refreshing step outside the ordinary, but a step they may not be quite ready to take, despite their experience with it. Sometimes their freeform style leads them to powerful motives that build to a shattering climax, but more often, these tracks communicate little more than clutter and frustration.

Although they may be called metalcore, Starkweather should not be held responsible for the stigma of the genre today, and those unfamiliar with the band should not let the genre title scare them away. If metalcore today had half the raw passion, unusual lyrics, and inventive determination heard on ‘Croatoan’, we would be much better off. However, although Starkweather are certainly a unique group, and their rancor is really quite impressive, it is difficult for anyone outside their original fanbase and a smattering of new-age critics to see their music as anything other than a temporary diversion.



--Etiam 03.18.07
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: STARKWEATHER
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
CroatoanStarkweather
2006
Etiam4/15/2007


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