Thursday, 10 April 2014

Stalwart - Manifest of Refusal


I'm once again raiding my (digital) review pile for a new band, that's never been featured but that hopefully people will be into. Russian band Stalwart have been playing death/thrash since 1999 and and have released five albums, this being the latest. They play regularly across Russia and the Ukraine, even supporting Behemoth in St Petersburg, which must have been pretty epic. Manifest of Refusal was released in 2012 via Canadian metal label PRC Music.

Tracklist:-

1. The Karma Circle
2. Downgrade Evolution
3. Rise Of The Ninth Wave
4. Last Dawn Of The Era
5. Corrosion
6. Idol Of The Time
7. It's Just My Choice
8. Manifest Of Refusal
9. Renaissance Through Devastation

Russia’s metal scene, just like the rest of Eastern Europe is booming at the moment and there seems to be a lot of death metal coming to the surface. Stalwart take influence from a lot of their European cousins, but also feature a slightly Tiamat inspired gothic side, with low-whispered vocals and subtle keyboard melodies during opener The Karma Circle. When they let rip, the drumming is very precise and the guitars are full of technicality. Their sound is very futuristic at times, reminiscent of bands like Zonaria and Norther. That being said, Downgrade Evolution has plenty of thrash grooves and a screaming solo, which fits the song like a glove. Stalwart hit a new level of brutal during Rise of The Ninth Wave. It’s bloody fun though and that lead picking is sublime. I have know idea how the double bass can stay at that pace for so long either!

Their songs are very expansive as well. Take Last Dawn of The Era for example; it’s six and a half minutes long and it’s here where you catch a glimpse of the band’s jazz elements. I guess with technical death metal, that’s a given though. Here it outweighs the thrash and even though it’s so fast for so long, it’s varied and keeps you hooked though it’s entirety. After the sprawling mass of Last Dawn of The Era, Corrosion features semi-clean singing in some sections and takes on a slightly more modern-metal stance. It brings to mind Soilwork at times. There are so many parts to Corrosion, it’s easy to forget that you are listening to the same song sometimes.

As Manifest of Refusal speeds along, it gets more and more catchy. The more urgent and shorter Idols of The Time is probably my favourite song on the album. The melodic vocals comes across as a cross between Max Cavalera/Rob Flynn in their delivery and the rhythm section comes over all progressive too, which is no bad thing. The band expertly switches times signatures as the song fades.
Idols of The Time flows effortlessly into It’s Just My Choice and Stalwart just keep getting better. The acoustic sections during the song, when the scream die down are great and are sensitive to the quitter vocals. I really can’t believe this band isn’t more widely known, as their song-craft and musicianship is top notch. Mind you it should be if you’ve released five albums!  

Their death-laden thrash hits back during the title track and ravages you with intense buzz saw riffage and super-human kick drumming. Ending it all with Renaissance Through Devastation, Stalwart end on a real high and leave with pretty obtrusive whiplash. Invest some time in these guys and they will repay you in many riffs and such speed. Awesome, life-affirming extremity.

You can stream Manifest of Refusal in it's entirety here:-



You can by the CD from PRC Music here - http://www.prcmusic.com/store/

Stalwart Website - http://stalwart.ru
Stalwart Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/stalwartmetal
PRC Music Website - http://prcmusic.com
PRC Music Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/prcmusiccanada

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