Reviews STNNNG The Smoke of My Will


The Smoke of My Will

It’s been four long years since the last STNNNG album. In that time, though, the band hasn’t wavered from their dynamic and aggressive style of confrontational rock. While original drummer Jeremy Ward may no longer play with them, Twin Cities veteran Ben Ivascu jumped in and, once the band felt comfortable as a unit, they finished up their third full-length: The Smoke of My Will.

While their first two records are solid, they never captured the energy that defines the band’s live show. This time around, Dave Gardner and Neil Weir have mixed the guitars and vocals up front, capturing Chris Besinger’s distressed and angry shout-yelps that overlay the meandering, forceful rhythms and the loud-soft dynamics that makes STNNNG sound like the musical equivalent of a being assaulted with a blunt object. Listening to the record, the adjectives that come to mind are loud and blistering—somehow even during the quiet parts. While I hate to make comparisons to legends, the Jesus Lizard comes to mind, although STNNNG is more calculated in their intensity.

The band’s bread and butter comes from big, winding guitars with angry, forceful vocals. Additional complexity comes from a rhythm section that threads the different guitar parts into cohesive, yet meandering songs. The dynamic shifts seek to exploit that moment of turbulence just before an explosion. “The Ugly Show” and “Slow Water” are examples of the soft-loud shifts that give an extra punch to the aggression. In other songs, the band will slow things down, as in the plodding, rambling feel of “In the Hate Field” and the tempo-shifting “Ladies & Gentlemen…We’ve Been Infected,” which ambles for four minutes of echoey, barren noodling before Besinger calls to his guitarist, “Take it, Burt,” and the song transforms into a minefield.

As the songs waver on the brink of insanity, Besinger’s lyrics tell a story in which the chaos ebbs and flows, decorated with emphatic cadences and head bobs. One of the record’s best songs, “New Black Hole,” is about the end of the Mayan calendar: the “cleansing fire” and how “the future’s history is put to sleep.” When Besinger delivers these lines, they don’t sound like mere description: they feel like a threat directed at anyone who will listen.

8.0 / 10Loren
See also
http: //
KFAI - Undead
Leave a comment

8.0 / 10

8.0 / 10

Share this content
Related features

One Question Interviews Modern Radio Record Label

Posted March 12, 2014, 8:09 p.m.

Peter Mielech (Modern Radio Record Label) SPB: You re-released old STNNNG records on the Playbutton format. How did you decide to try that format? Mielech ...

One Question Interviews STNNNG

Posted Nov. 17, 2013, 10:33 a.m.

Chris Besinger (STNNNG, vocals) SPB: What is the worst interview question you’ve been asked? Besinger: Not sure what the worst question we've been ...

KFAI - Root Of All Evil
More by STNNNG


Veterans of Pleasure

7.8 / 10 STNNNG - Veterans of Pleasure album cover

STNNNG have slowed down their output but it doesn’t seem that age is catching up to them. If anything, their anger seems more pronounced than ever. Pronounced “The Stunning,” the ...


Empire Inward

7.8 / 10 STNNNG - Empire Inward album cover

When frontman Chris Besinger laments, “I’m howling/ Can you hear me?” at the start of “Ballad of the Drunken Word,” it all comes home. Empire Inward is STNNNG’s fourth full-length and comes ...

Related news

Records STNNNG to release fifth LP soon

Posted March 5, 2017, 1:37 p.m.

Modern Radio has announced that STNNNG will release their fifth full-length soon, titled Veterans of Pleasure. The album was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio and mastered ...

Tours STNNNG in Europe this winter

Posted Dec. 26, 2013, 10:35 a.m.

Minneapolis' STNNNG, who released Empire Inward earlier in 2013, are hitting Europe from Feb. 22 to March 1. Their last record was released in the US on Modern Radio Record ...

Bands 1QI: Martyrdöd, STNNNG, Worthwhile Way, Austerity Program

Posted Aug. 6, 2013, 7:56 p.m.

We're proud to introduce a new series here at Scene Point Blank: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook or twitter and we'll post one interview every Monday-Thursday ...



Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.