Sometimes music and metal in particular does not make sense. Take a band like Russian death metallers Stalwart. They have just released their stunning new album Manifest of Refusal, their fifth full length release and one of such creative might and devastating power it is easily one of the most impressive releases of the year. But have you heard of them? Certainly this is our first introduction to them. From those that do know of them, and it is a mere handful it seems, the band has been producing striking music throughout their formation in 1999 but still they are an unknown joy. Maybe it is a prejudice to and assumption of the music from their homeland but it is staggering that they still are invisible to most. Hopefully with the simply outstanding Manifest of Refusal that will shortly change.
Stalwart is labelled as predominently death metal but there is so much more to their sound. Death metal is just a bulky flavour matched in mass and strength by a mix of technical and groove metal with large veins of industrial and progressive metal. Imagine a mutated offspring of Behemoth, Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Fear Factory, and Livarkahil and you get an idea of the diverse and mighty sounds the band lay waste to the ear with. They produce extreme metal with imagination and the darkest thought for a resulting glorious consumption of mind, body and soul.
Released through PRC Music, Manifest of Refusal searches out and fills every sense, thought and emotion. From the opening chimes of the opening leviathan The Karma Circle and its heralding of what is about to emerge the track seizes full attention with force and drama. Crushing riffs, skull wrecking rhythms, and an intensity to topple continents soon overrun the ear to devastating effect. The song proceeds to pick upon and blister the senses with raging torrents of aggressive energy whilst slipping into partial lulls to wipe the wound clean before ripping it open once more. The guitars of Leonid and Antuan weave in and out with stirring riffs and cutting melodies like fighter pilots picking their spot to for fullest impact and intrusion whilst the drums of Alex are as hypnotic as they are vicious, his skill and intensity beyond impressive.
From the opener alone the vocals leave one surprised and eager, the delivery of Oleg Sobolevsky ably backed by bassist Demian, are as varied and imaginative as the music. He veers from growls to clean through a gamut of variations to ensure the unpredictability is in every aspect of the album. The following Downgrade Evolution easily confirms this fine display, the track another compulsive corruption of the ear.
As the songs rip chunks off the senses one by one there is nothing but the deepest pleasure and satisfaction. The songs surge up and leave their own deeply furrowed individual mark one by one to make the release an unrelenting assault and persistent muscular invention. Tracks like Rise Of The Ninth Wave with excellent bass play from Demian, the intimidating spectacular Corrosion with its slightly chaotic ingenuity and startling detours, and the brilliant disruptive mesmeric title track, leave one grasping onto anything for security and support against the stunning aural cataclysm.
Great as the whole album is Idol Of The Time easily grabs best track acclaim, the song a riot of punishing rhythms and vengeful riffs. With vocals as coarse and malicious as the sounds the track obliterates every synapse and emotion daring to step in its way. It is the growling bass of Demian which steals the fullest praise though as he stalks and underpins the song with the frightening might of a bear with its temperament and attitude in tow.
Manifest of Refusal is easily a contender for album of the year not only in Russia but worldwide, it and Stalwart just need people to finally take notice is all.