Crunchy riffs and airtight synchronicity greet the listener’s ears. Heads nod with confidence and STIGMACHINE’s long player sets sail for destinations melodic and punk inflected. But, is something awry in the Stigmachine camp? The only way to truly know is to listen…
Hailing from Barrie, Stigmachine claim to write progressive punk and melodic hardcore, I think this is an accurate description from the songs available on this record. The structure of the band is the traditional two guitars, bass and drums. Their musical discography includes 2013’s self-titled EP and the release in review, 2014’s full length Meniscus Curve.
Opening with the instrumental “Intro”, the guitar sounds are very tight and the drums are equally quite compressed. The riffs and articulation are sensational though, and the band is synchronised to the finest of margins. An authentic and unhindered vocalist appears during the second track, “Battle Cry”, and the social commentary piques my interest. The subject matter during the album seems to be based around a response to an imbalance of power and social injustice in general.
The use of audio bites to introduce songs on the album (and presumably live) is another great feature of the Stigmachine sound. Despite its unimaginative title, “Hardcore Song” is the one that translates the best to me. “Get ready for a surprise…” is the sample that precedes it and indeed it is. It’s a lot of fun to and the energy shifts just seem to be spot on: frenetic verses and a great breakdown riff, a mesmerising tapping groove and a quick, clean close to the song.
Another neat track is the politically charged “White History Month” – yeah, these boys can write good songs, alright. There clearly is a lot of thought put into song structure and getting each part of every song punching above its weight. The guitar solo in this song is a little beauty as well, sailing away from the vocal with a classic rock wail. The bands rhythm section should get maximum kudos for keeping the song arrangements intact though. The drumming is creative and flawless, always building and never stagnant. The bass has all its sonic range intact and is locked with a deadbolt to the kick and snare. The end result is a juicy listening experience and as indicated above, imparts a sense of confidence in the listener; confidence in the groove and confidence that the band won’t falter.
The compression on the drums and the close, direct sound of the guitars works for and against the album. On the one hand, every second is extremely tight and present but on the other; the lineage of the genre’s influence has been built on a very analogue sound. It is common knowledge these days that the tricks available to a musician in the studio environment are virtually endless. Instead of arguing their existence at all, it is the context within which these options are deployed that are more the point for contest and ethical debate. For a punk band, this issue is certainly relevant to Stigmachine and Meniscus Curve seems to make maximum use of the studio without misrepresenting the bands influence or abilities. No, there is nothing awry in the recording of this album, and if genre cohorts Bodyjar, Blueline Medic and Heisenbeards are any indicator, full use of the studio can yield excellent results.
For readers in Barrie, I would implore you to get behind this band. Whilst they are currently in a preparatory phase writing new material and gathering merchandise for a fresh assault, they deserve support. The skillset they bring to the art of punk/hardcore song arrangement is significant and, moreover, it feels good. This isn’t just a band to watch out for, it’s one to rock out to – recorded and live!
Written by Scott Andrews