Brazil’s Stormental gives “ProgPower” new meaning by splitting the difference between the genres. Its sound is surprisingly stripped down, as the band only has four members, with one guitarist and no keyboards. Thus, the instrumentalists have more room to flex their considerable skills, with particularly fine work by the bassist.
I never thought I’d say this, but I wish the vocals were more over-the-top. The singer hits his notes, but I found myself wanting more oomph. I realize that’s essentially asking for more cheese, but there is a perverse pleasure in glass-shattering vocals that make your balls shrivel up in pain. Instead of big, technicolor peaks, these songs coolly glide along, with occasional flashes of shredding.
Adding to this sense of restraint is the bare production. The guitars sound so dry that I’d wager that they were recorded direct. I also never thought I’d say this, but I wish the production were “wetter” – more reverb, lusher, deeper. This is a slippery slope, of course, but more sonic depth would enhance the epic nature of the melodies.
The lyrics are also quite epic, with a historical/colonization theme running throughout. They read like textbooks: “In the end of feudal system, Europe was in crisis / A lot of homeless were living in the streets / Everyone was searching for gold and silver / And a foreign place for providing raw material.” Not very rock ‘n’ roll, but if your Settlers of Catan game needs a soundtrack, you know where to go.
Stormental’s debut album is available as a free download at its website. I’m not sure how I feel about bands giving away their music this way. Is it desperation? Cost cutting? A clever way to get people to hear music? All of the above? Regardless of motive, the album, complete with Sadus-esque font, is worth checking out.