“Bursting Church”: Stress Angel’s Violence Boils Over (Early Album Stream)
The unhinged and unbound have always been a part of metal, slinking in the shadows behind the mainstream to maintain their uncompromising vision of armageddon at all costs. In 1980 it was Venom. In 1987 it was Sadistik Exekution. Today Stress Angel carry on a storied history of maniac butchery with their brand of frantic, all-chains-broken thrashing death metal. Twisted riffs tear through a bloody sky, and ferocity is favored at all times in order to maintain an atmosphere of flames and death at all times.
The album’s simple and evocative cover of a church literally bursting from within, flames erupting, perfectly encapsulates what Bursting Church is all about. Songs here are not long, and they are not complicated. Howling vocals soar over muscular riffs that try to bruise listeners, and chaos is the general mood more than anything else.
Despite an attitude predominantly leaning towards thrash, Stress Angel are no one trick pony and tasteful breaks towards doom, chunky deathly power chords, and even trancelike, mid-paced repetition keep the album from falling into the traps of repetitiveness and single-mindedness that so many similar bands fall into. Songs will open with a section of plodding Celtic Frost-esque power chords and then go off the rails over the course of the song, or after a couple of minutes of Mortem-like aggression suddenly become a dirge. One of the finest songs on the album, “Life Alert,” is more doom than not. Those dynamics lead to faster parts hitting even harder, and whether or not it was intended, the breaks let a listener recover between onslaughts.
As much as rabid aggression and total devastation are the goals of the band, catchiness is also the name of the game and the care given to it leads to an album that sticks in the head for long after it’s been finished. Vocal lines are strategically calculated to land with maximum possible impact, drum beats change often enough to accent riffs without ever attempting to overpower the riffs, and lead guitar is all of the variety that makes ears perk up. All of these elements come together perfectly to form what is certainly one of the most terrorizing albums of the year.
Alongside a full premiere of Bursting Church we also have an interview with percussionist and vocalist Manny Sores below.
Your new album, Bursting Church, comes out shortly and is streaming today. Tell me more about the band and how everything came together.
Well it was probably 2013 when I came up with the idea for this band with a friend from Turkey. We were making evil speed metal in his home in Brooklyn. We called the band Zealot for a while until he moved out to Norway. I always wanted to continue with this band. Fast forward to 2018 I was thinking of restarting Zealot with Nicolai. We got together and fucked around with some of those old songs but decided to start fresh with a new moniker and new songs. I'd known Nicolai for 20 years or so and he's always been such a great guitarist and human person. This incarnation came together quite easily.
Why did you decide to approach Stress Angel as a two piece instead of finding more people for a full lineup?
That wasn't the idea to begin with but it worked really well for us. We can show up to our rehearsal room with some ideas and have a song completed in no time. We work really efficiently together. We got our friend Dozer to come and learn the songs and record the demo on bass with us and that was great. He ended up leaving the country so we were back to the two of us for a while. We booked a show back in April of 2020 so we recruited our old friend Hank to perform with us, but that never happened because of this Covid thing. But he has stuck around and learned all the new stuff for the Bursting Church album recording and will be joining us for our future live appearances wherever those might be.
Are you going to keep writing the songs as a two-piece for that speed and efficiency, or slow down and work in Hank when the time comes?
I would say our formula is working well as a two-piece so far. Hank has been instrumental to our efficiency as far as recording and we aren't opposed to any of his input while we rehearse but the sole writing duties will always be on the shoulders of Nicolai and myself.
It’s been only a year since your first demo came out and already it’s time for the album. How did you approach your songwriting and where did the rabid inspiration come from?
Yes, it has been a busy year. We usually show up to our spot each with some riffs or ideas and just fuck with them until something breaks or catches on fire and then we know its a keeper. It's all the same sort of vibe since we started playing together. We definitely take inspiration from the old guys. The wheel won't be reinvented by us but we will grease it up regularly if you know what I mean.
How much time did you guys usually spend a week writing music and rehearsing while you were working on the album?
Usually I'm playing my guitar for a few hours a week at home, fucking with some riffs and such, and I'm sure Nicolai is working on some nasty shit in his alone time too. When we converge in the rehearsal room we have been known to complete songs within an hour. The vision is pretty clear for us, so time hasn't been much of a factor since we began.
Stress Angel is outrageously furious and uncompromising. How do you handle writing music that sounds like it’s about to go off the rails without losing the thread yourself?
We are always in danger of falling over or having a stroke during our rehearsals. I wouldn't call it "Fast and Loose" but it's close to it. Playing evil metal should always hurt you in some way in my opinion. Throwing up after a song is usually a good signal that you are playing properly. I like to think about what D.D. Crazy would do sometimes when playing these songs and then my brain caves in and I wake up with snus in my mouth and a bump on my head.
Are the songs physically difficult to perform one after another, or just emotionally difficult, or both, or in some other way?
Well playing Heavy Metal is never easy if you are doing it right. Personally I enjoy the pain when it's all working out right. It's all difficult to dial in, but like anything it pays to play. Singing and playing fast drums at the same time is something that's pretty extreme I guess. It helps to practice of course but it never becomes easy to nail down.
How did you get in touch with Stygian Black Hand and decide to work with them?
I've known Mr. Stygian for quite some time. Shared the stage and a van in various countries over the years. He always releases quality stuff and the bands he works with are always pretty special. When we were talking about releasing our demo he was the first one we thought of to do a good job with it and you will see that he's done fantastic work with the full length as well.
What’s next for the band now that your album is finally here?
Since we recorded this slab we've written about half of our next piece. Not sure what it will be called or if it will be a full length or something else but It will happen. We've got our first gig out in Indianapolis later this summer as well. Maybe some other appearances around the east coast if folks want that sort of thing in their life.
Do you have anything else to talk about or promote?
Listen to Bad Steve.