When I wrote a blog post about Stigmata’s heavily anticipated June 26 album launch a few weeks ago, one of the first comments I got was, “Do these guys have a random word generator for their album names?” I ignored the comment at first but then I sat and thought about it for a minute.
Over the years, all of Stigmata’s album titles, their lyrics, their stage presence and pretty much everything about them have been cryptic and out of the ordinary. You could say the whole outfit has always been something of an enigma. Maybe the bizarre album titles were a part of that ‘image’, that mysterious, almost shadowy but steadfastly solid presence in the Sri Lankan metal scene that they have managed to become. At least that is the way I’ve come to understand them, as someone who, admittedly, wasn’t really a ‘fan’ until very recently.
Psalms of Conscious Martyrdom, Stigmata’s third studio album, has taken that presence a step further and is currently shrieking out loud that Stigmata really are the godfathers of original Sri Lankan heavy metal, and that 10 years on, they’re still the greatest. True to their style, the ‘Stigs’ have incorporated into Psalms a refreshingly Sri Lankan sound, with traditional drums and percussion being used heavily and boldly throughout the eight-track CD. A majority of the record pays homage to their roots, bringing back memories of the days of Andura, while introducing a distinctly new sound that is both uniquely novel and thankfully familiar at the same time.
With heavy riffs by Tenny, powerful drums by Taraka, heart-stopping bass by Javeen, hauntingly beautiful solos by Andrew, and of course the deep and surprisingly melodious voice of Suresh, the album is a real treat for your eardrums.
Lyrically, the band is as good as ever and Suresh has, once again, delivered some mind blowing poetry.
“So, sleep like a child, ride the lunar tide. Dream like a child, awaken from your coma. Punish me – I am dreaming. Punish me – I am feeding. And I wait for you. I will seek you. I will hunt you. I will break you. I will feast on you.
There is nothing you can do. Sleep/dream in pretty colour serene. Sleep/drown in a dearth black sky of flies. Sleep/opalescent spirits pass me by. Sleep/for lost innocent personified.” – The concluding verse of ‘Spiralcoma’, the opening track, a truly head-bang worthy song. (My neck still hurts).
‘The Summoning Cry of Aries’ is a powerful blend of metal, Sri Lankan ‘yak bera’ drums and a catchy 6/8 beat that leaves you pining for a live concert. The final track, ‘March of the Saints’, an 11-minute epic, is my personal favourite. Andrew and Taraka in particular shine in this masterpiece of a track.
I do not intend to write a long review and spoil the surprises that you are sure to find in this truly amazing album. Whether you’re a metalhead or not, if you’re a fan of music, a supporter of raw Sri Lankan talent, then Psalm is a record you simply must own. It is original Sri Lankan metal at its thrashing best. Oh, and make sure you listen to it with headphones.