ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Loud and furious

By Nadine Becker

It's fast. It's loud. And it's unforgivable, intense, pulsating and heavy, theatrical Metal.

That's what you get to hear from Suresh ("the voice"), Andrew (the lead-guitarist), Tenny (guitarist – one of the two band-members with no head-banging-style long hair), Wije (the inconspicuous bassist) and Jackson (the shorthaired drummer that could play shirtless more often), who together line up as the band Stigmata.

For seven years these guys have been hitting the notes now and when they first came together in College things were not as glorious, shining and promising as they seem to be now. Their first show was visited by no more than 3 young girls and 2 teenage boys and those fans did not only want to listen to the music being performed but also popped onto stage themselves every once in a while to bring their own idea of sound and rattle into the concert.

But now no one would dare to just gawkily stumble onto stage anymore in the middle of a cracking, ear-smashing, well spiced up concert of Stigmata. Probably because you would be scared in the middle of all this collateral, merciless head-banging around you and all these close up visible, pulsating thick veins that bring the energy to a pot-splattering boiling point… but no worries, Stigmata are not all growling and barking, they are way to boondoggled with their music, in fact most of the guys work in clean, polished banks or tidily sterile advertising offices when they are not pressing the sweat out of their every pore while without clemency rocking this island inexorably and ruthlessly.

Most rocking of all of them is probably Ranil, because no matter how horribly wasted the drum-set is, he still managed to get my feet kicking. And exactly here is what makes most of the bands sound – the thick and constantly heavy hitting, ruthless, loaded bass-drum. The gunfire is on!

If then Wije tunes in and puts a bit of his moderately dolce bass-tunes into this hitting and defeating beat, things turn up more and more. Although here the band could get a little more piquancy and spiciness, you can't hold it against them that they want to keep it on a straight line.

Every now and again if you tune your ears to the right level you can catch a guitar solo of mostly Andrew, who studies classical guitar next to the band rather unconventional and bohemian excurses. This is where the melodic and tuneful part comes in and you get to see or better to say, hear, that there is actually a high musical understanding behind the band.

None of them can probably note down a full set of triads, but what's the need if you can produce such a psychic aggressive and musically progressive sound without all these god forsaken lines, rules and regulations. And would it not actually fail to hit all its significance and just completely miss the whole point if there would be a comprehensible and traceable order behind it?

But before drifting off into highly rocking philosophical debates let's move on with the band.

A lead played a little bit heavier from Tenny on his guitar would make the band one of my favourites but as a lot of modern bands do they miss the unforgettable, distorted lead-sound. Suresh, who when rehearsing never uses a mic, binds all this together and holds the musical individuals together to a band like puppets in a string-theatre play and is obviously the main focus on stage with his laid back folded hands and his decent scalp-hair-throwing.

The last trump they do have and pull is the constant switching between the temperamental moods, speeds and rhythmic styles they create. This is a truly, considerably new invention and makes the band worth tuning in to. Although that will still keep them from becoming a radio-compatible arrangement they are rather happy about this than depressed. "We don't wanna be one of these lucrative bands that you can listen to while ironing your cloths or chopping your vegetables for dinner. If you listen to us the first time your ears have to bleed and you have to become completely taken in by the music, the lyrics and the arrangements," says Suresh in his normally rather soft, tame and un-scarring voice.

With their first album ‘Hollow dreams’ in 2003, which simultaneously was the first metal album in Sri Lanka ever, they sold more than 5000 copies and that not only on the island but thanks to mostly their overseas gigs in Male and India, their orders from Japan and their planned gigs in Dubai and Bangalore. They are swimming high up on the new wave of Asian Heavy Metal. But let's hope they don't get swept away like all these hype-bands…

The band that found their name in a 1998 release of the Swedish, female-led Heavy Metal band called ‘Arch Enemie’, then released their second album, named "Silent Chaos Serpentine" before long in 2006, after a rather short studio-recording time of about 60 to 70 hours. "It has the same sound but is more intense, a little bit rawer and not as easily accessible as its predecessor" they kindly warn everyone. Of this one they have already sold 3000 copies and they are willing to take the numbers up to the sky…

But what is really new and so fresh out of the rehearsing and jamming rooms that it is still steaming warm are the 5 new songs that they have practiced on with their same professional and disciplined everyday rehearsing as always. So watch out and don't burn your fingers on these ones!

"If Alpha meets Omega" is an instrumental piece, that will surly rock your world next to one of the other songs with the most noise possible – "The summoning cry of Aries", the promising named one – "Nothing", "Spiral Coma" and the 11- minute long ode to their fans "March of the Saints". "All our music is progressively structured and very complex, but the new songs are even more special as they all thread up to a complex story while they are all about psychic voyages and deal with out-of-body experiences" says Suresh.

Although the new material is supposedly different they still see it as a therapeutic kick for themselves and even though they themselves have no boundaries, they defiantly push ours to the edge. "For a full album there are still a few songs, up to 4 or 5, that we have to work on, but we want to get it all done till October or November, so we can record it by next year and this time with a little bit more time and relaxation in the studio," Suresh demands, because for their latest album he had been given the task to record his vocals at 8.30 in the morning, with a nice get-up-early-morning-cawing-and-croaking-like-a-crow voice. They are trying to get all these songs pressed onto the next CD as soon as possible but for whom this is not enough, the so-called hardcore fans, there is an opportunity to listen to them spanking and brand new in Kandy, where the guys are going to hold their next concert on September 8 in the "Old Trinitians' Sportsclub".

So people, get yourself behind the wheel and drive up to Kandy for this special, dense, empathic, exaggerated concert!!!


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.