April 2, 2010 | | 3.5

Stigma, Concerto for the Undead

Stigma: Concerto for the Undead

Stigma‘s 2008 debut album, When Midnight Strikes was a great introduction to the band’s horror film fueled melodic death metal. The horror fan schtick is in full force on the group’s latest effort and, while the music sits in relatively the same rotting coffin as the debut, this time around there’s a bit more maturity to be found. Oh sure, the over the top horror themed songs (derived from Tales From The Crypt stories) are still present, but the music that accompanies the lyrics is well honed and backed by a solid production. The result is some music that may not be wholly original, but is damn near infectious.

The core sound on this disc is definitely that of melodic death metal, but the guys are sure to throw in some technical explosions at the hands of guitarist Andrea Magnaldi, whose riffs and sweeping leads are impressive to say the least. The rhythm section (Flavio Magnaldi on bass and Stefano Ghiglianon on drums) lay down a foundation of rumbling blasts and technical fills to match the driving guitars. Vocally, Stefano Ghersi belts out a wide range of guttural growls, shrieks and screams — improving and taming his delivery on the last album.

Overall, Concerto for the Undead is a catchy album that fans of Black Dahlia Murder, Darkest Hour and At The Gates should definitely enjoy.

Chop His Head Off!
What better way to start off an album inspired by the Tales From The Crypt comics than with a little cackle from the HBO produced Cryptkeeper. Man, I loved that show. At any rate, “Chop His Head Off!” has some well crafted melodic death elements in play. From the sweeping hooks to the thick riffs, the song combines a Black Dahlia Murder vibe with the band’s own interpretation of the genre. The layered vocals add nice depth to a pretty decent album opener.

Prove You Are a Man!
I love the distant guitars in the opening of this next song. They definitely add an interesting feel to the song’s atmosphere. For as melodic as the album’s first track was, this next one is a burly, moshtastic monster that aims to bludgeon your to a quivering mass of plasma and detritus. The layered vocals are well put together throughout this song as the crisp production adds a good amount of oomph to the band’s sound.

…And They Died Happily Ever After!
I really got into the more bruising aspect of that last song, but this next one doesn’t quite keep the burly riffs going, instead opting for a slightly brighter sound in the guitar tone as well as an In Flames vibe. Thankfully there is some sweet, staggered drumming and riffing around 2:45 to break up the melodic elements a good deal. This is a pretty decent track, but not my favorite on the album.

A Monstrous Feeling
The title to this next one is more than appropriate — this is a monster of a track. The creative and technical rhythms that permeate the song are impressive, yet still catchy enough to keep a solid groove flowing. There’s a more technical flare to the overall song in general, as well. I’m digging the backing group shouts through the chorus. They are a nice touch that helps separate the band from their peers.

The Undertaker
“The Undertaker” is one of the more impressive songs on the album that also incorporates a bit of a thrash vibe. There is great depth throughout a song that is well written and skillfully delivered. It’s catchy, technical, smooth and enjoyable as fuck to listen to. Damn, I’m going to have to listen to this one again.

What About a Terror Ride
Okay, sorry about that. I just had to listen to that last one again, but now we’re back on schedule with “What About a Terror Ride.” This track has a darker feel to the chugging riffs and beefy vocal work than some of the stuff found on the album thus far. I love the drum work throughout the song, as well.

3000 Years and Still Keeping it Real
Damn, man. This song explodes out of the gates like some hellish beast bursting through the rusted, iron gates of a backwoods cemetery, the stench of rot on its breathe as it flies toward your hapless skull. I was initially skeptical of “3000 Years and Still Keeping it Real” based on it’s title alone, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s aggressive, high energy and evil as fuck.

A Grave Situation
I’m not sure how anything could successfully follow up that brute of a song, but the band does the best they can with “A Grave Situation” — a pretty darn good song in its own right, albeit with a more melodic groove. The guitar work on this song is technical, varied and impressive. It’s some of the best on the album. There’s a nice ebb and flow to the song that helps break up the driving pace of the album.

Beat Me Maestro, Eight to the Dead!
The chugging riffs that open up this next song are head banging fun to say the least. There’s some nicely staggered rhythms throughout the song that accompany arpeggio sweeps and a violent vocal attack. It’s one of the band’s more standard songs, but well delivered nonetheless.

Doctor Skeleton
“Doctor Skeleton” wraps up an impressive sophomore offering with a more varied attack on the senses with layered vocals, a bit of sound effects, frenetic drum work and a darker tone. It’s a strong album closer and should prove to be a fan favorite when all is said and done.

~ ~ ~

Additional Notes: