As if Candlelight wasn’t already having a great year with the likes of Daylight Dies, Enslaved, Ihsahn, Keep of Kalessin, Zyklon and Bal-Sagoth, here is arguably one of the most anticipated ‘reunion’ albums of the year within its respective genre.

I wont bore you with the history of Starkweather, but one could argue that without 1994’s Crossbearer, and 1995’s Into the Wire, there may not have been the Converge’s, the Coalesce’s, the Isis’s, the Dillinger’s, the Mastodon’s and their many ilk and arguably are as influential on modern ‘metalcore’(I use the term loosely here) as the likes of the equally underrated Earth Crisis and Turmoil (whose members deliver guest performances on Croatoan)

Now, ten years later and with their original lineup, Croatoan staggers triumphantly onto the scene to disintegrate the scenester pollution and rock star epidemic that metalcore has been plagued with. Croatoan is nasty, lumbering, infected, cancerous discordance littered with antagonistic ‘clean’ segues that leer and sneer with a nervous, psychotic disposition rather than radio friendly prose. Vocalist Rennie Resmini has a token snarl, but his clean vocal are twisted and haunting rather than poppy and uplifting and may be the only sticking point for most lisenters.

From the utterly gargantuan opener “Slither” (arguably one of the gnarliest tracks of the year) through closer “Wilding”, Croatoan is a monstrous record that rarely raises above anymore than a precise, menacing lurch that tumbles and slices like an avalanche of razorwire. The first clean segment that arises halfway through “Slither” is a disturbing yet hypnotic dichotomy to the track’s vast girth and sets the tone of what can be expected for during the rest of the album. It’s hard for “Taming Leeches with Fire” to follow “Slither” and it does flail a bit with its rather grating climax, but “Vespertillian” and “Silekn Garotte/The Infinity Coil” manage to return to the sheer, nervous hulking nature of the opener and inject enough of Resmini’s off kilter clean interludes to keep the listener off guard. “HushabyeMacine Rythymn Confessional” is initially the album’s most urgent track with a more caustic, angular trot that lacks the atonal paranoia of the rest of the album (even though it does eventually make that shift), but it does throw a album breaking change of pace in. The twisted, lurching vocal duality that opens “Hushabye: Goodnight” is truly unsettling and “Wilding” sears a suitably melancholy endnote on an album that truly leaves the listener emotionally drained.

At times, Starkweather out heft the likes of Lair of the Minotaur or Black Cobra, so his isn’t a traditional ‘metalcore’ (the modern visage) by any stretch, but is simply an eye gouging, acidic album born from 10 years of perfection and pain.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 11th, 2006


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