|Review: Stygma IV - Hell Within|
Year released: 2004
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: November 21, 2004
Reviewed by: 4th Horseman
There are some bands out there that are just so damn great and consistent, that their greatness becomes their very burden. Stygma IV are one such band that has never hit it big time (and probably never will) because their art is just not what is "in" these days in metal (or has been). Unique bands like this are precisely what the underground is about. Yes…once again, I am referring to that angry and melancholic kind of power metal.
"Hell Within" is not Stygma IV's masterpiece. Fans of these Austrians will most likely throw varying albums at you arguing that that is their magnum opus. I myself cannot claim which is the best since I have not heard them all and some of them are impossibly difficult to find. Important to note is that this band is cursed and has had serious trouble with every label they have been on and as a result, they have changed their name several times (Muddy Crutch, Big Heat, Stigmata, Stigmata IV, Stygma IV), and hence, becoming devoid of any major recognition.
Heavy, crunchy, dark and aggressive; if there ever was a band that sounds "like" the German power metallers Angel Dust, Stygma IV would be it. Even the vocalist has that kind of rough gritty voice that Dirk Thurisch does. However, these guys place a little more emphasis on atmosphere and melodic guitars than Angel Dust do, which is probably this band's weakness. Get rid of the high melodic guitars guys…melody sounds so much better when it comes from the vocals or keyboards. That is the way it was meant to be! I guess many bands can get away with this, and Stygma IV are perhaps one of them. However, for the most part they do play sad vocal melodies layered on top of aggressive guitars. Their riffs are fairly simple, but maintain a solid rhythm throughout and the vocal melodies are really good – as in they are not the wimpy, catchy, and enjoyable for about 2 listens type of thing. You like them more and more with repeated listens. Overall, a very dark and melancholic album though; so if you like your power metal to be positively energetic and full of soaring melodies, high speed riffs and double bass fetishes, then this is far, far from that. This is somber and angry mid-tempo stuff; all the way through.
Definitely one of the towering albums of 2004 and those that are aware of the type of power metal I speak of here know that this style is rare and we needs to takes whatever we can finds! Hunting season has begun boys…Your prey awaits the attack!
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