Stolas

Living Creatures

Written by: TL on 01/04/2013 23:12:57

Considering how their main claim to fame so far is that they're the first signees to Will Swan's new record label Blue Swan Records, it maybe shouldn't come as a big surprise that Stolas sound quite similar to Swan's own band Dance Gavin Dance as well as stylistic cousins and uncles of theirs like A Lot Like Birds or The Mars Volta. In line with its artwork, the Las Vegas quartet's debut LP "Living Creatures" conjures up a feeling of watching some bizarro underwater coral landscape on super fast-forward. Developments happen explosively, with progressive excess and post-hardcore urgency crashing into each other in a fireworks display of brain-melting guitar wizardry and latin-inspired drumming that does indeed sound quite a bit like the aforementioned Mars Volta.

Despite such a vivid explanation, "Living Creatures" is not without its flaws. Showing the contempt for sensible song-structures that only young and madly ambitious bands can muster, the transitions between frenzied fret-madness and tranquil psychedelica are some times dodgier than others, and unlike the eeriely similar A Lot Like Birds, repeat listens have not yet rewarded me with an understanding of any master-plan behind it all. Still, when the dynamics work, like in the incendiary opening riff/scream combination to first track "Thief & The Hourglass", or when stretches of cryptical spoken work exchanges spell the guitars and screams some rest, while laying down some poetic lines on top of the rampant drumming - see for instance "Our Last Night On Earth" - you do get the feeling that you're listening to something pretty cool.

These little speeches however, might indicate that Stolas (or their producers) are well aware that one of the band's main drawbacks lies with its clean vocals, which do not have any particularly interesting melodies going for them, and which tend to sound like they're all covered up in 'megaphone-effect'. Moreover the album's ten tracks boast no less than five separate guest vocalist appearances, with Hail The Sun's Donovan Melero, ALLB's Kurt Travis and Cory Lockwood, DGD's Tilian Pearson and former DGD singer Jonny Craig. In my opinion Melero and Pearson make the best contributions, essentially highlighting their songs "Circuit Theory" and "Year Of The Light" with some much needed vocal charisma.

Overall I think Stolas flash some power and potential with this release, but when looking at the overall structuring (or lack thereof) of the album and the subpar clean vocal melodies you also get the feeling that there are signs of them having maybe put "Living Creatures" together a bit too soon. If you're not bothered by some drawbacks when you're out discovering crazy newcomers to the experimental post-hardcore scene though, you can probably get around these issues and have some pretty good trips pursuing Stolas through "Living Creatures".

7

Download: Thief & The Hour Glass, Year Of The Light, Circuit Theory,
For The Fans Of: A Lot Like Birds, The Mars Volta, Dance Gavin Dance, Circa Survive, The Fall Of Troy
Listen: facebook.com/StolasLV

Release Date 14.03.2013
Blue Swan Records

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