The enigmatic metal behemoth that is Starkweather has been erratically dropping musical bombs sporadically for well over a decade. An uncompromising band of musicians that set out to artistically satisfy their own predilections rather than satisfy any kind of musical "market", Starkweather has been lauded in the underground metal and hardcore community for quite a long time. They have been an influential outfit that has spread their claws into much of what is deemed as popular today without many knowing or hearing about them. The beauty of their harsh musical vision has resurfaced after almost ten years of sporadic activity. Their last full-length, Into the Wire was released in 1995, and since then fans have only had a split 7" and single song on a compilation (the amazing Definitely Not the Majors). Although an acquired taste to a degree, they are a great band that deserves much more attention.
Well, look out because Starkweather has given Croatoan to us. Enlisting Liam Wilson of Dillinger Escape Plan to help out on bass and the mighty Jim Winters on guitar, the core of Harry Rosa on drums, Todd Forkin on guitar, and the vocals of Rennie Resmini has put a great deal of time into constructing this their latest offering. The terrifyingly grating vocal delivery strikes home the musical attack that the group has laid out against the ears. Croatoan contains a mammoth sound that acts like a steady river that erodes its way through the hardest rock. Slowly but surely the album carves out a place in the listeners head that leaves them wondering what the hell they have stumbled upon.
From the opening track, "Slither", Croatoan slams all of its cards on the table just to let you know that you are going to lose everything to the record. "Slither" uses an ominous mood set forth by the heavy (and I mean heavy) musical landscape concocted by the Starkweather boys. The vocals are (for lack of a better term) absolutely brutal. I liken Resmini's vocals to the slow torture of having one's knuckles raked right to the bone by a cheese grater while being forced to watch. It is so horrific that it's good. His vocals are the perfect foil for the stabbing music within the album. The lyrics are hauntingly poetic and convey a beautifully scary muse. These musical themes are consistent throughout the record. The band utilizes whiplash inducing timing and tempo changes along with their metallic base to create a hell of an album.
My favorite track on the album would be "Bitterfrost". Even though it had been released prior on the split 7" with Season to Risk, the recording here makes it a superior version. It has many great pieces that make it a vicious song that cuts right through the din of the album. Come to think of it, "Slither" and "Hushabye: Goodnight" are also redone tracks from previous records (Into the Wire and the Definitely Not the Majors comp respectively). But, strangely the album is oddly cohesive, a testament to the musical abilities of the group. Honestly, Starkweather does not give one bad track on Croatoan. Hopefully more people will discover this band and realize how good they are.
7.2 / 10
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