What can really be said about a recording that is made in the very first stages of a band's career? Of course the production values are going to be sub par as compared to today's standards and the band is probably focusing more on the excitement of being recorded then the end product of what is being recorded. So when I threw in STYGIA's promo/demo very creatively entitled "Promo CD" I figured I wouldn't hear the best that the band as to offer.
Right from the first second of the first track, one is going to notice the poor production values. This really isn't the band's fault at this point of their career but I think this is to be noted. The production is very raw with much of the material sounding it was a first time shot that was kept. So the band didn't really have the chance to make everything sound slick and well put together. This is something that a lot of Death Metal fans might enjoy. The band in its most raw state recorded. The mixing of the album is also far from being top notch. The vocals and drums devour the rest of the band and even though there are plenty of shining moments from the guitars most of it is lost in the cascade of roars and rhythm.
Ironically, the best part of the album is the drumming. There are some interesting rhythms and patterns that the drummer brings out in the music. It's nice to hear a Death Metal drummer that isn't afraid to lay off the double bass for at least part of the music (in this case, most of it). The drums do fit well with the guitar work on "Promo CD". Too bad the guitars are almost mixed out of the demo because there are some very nice moments from the guitars here and there. The brief and concise solos are a nice change of pace from the heavy riffs that STYGIA mostly use. The leads are there if you listen closely...they are just buried under the rest of the mix. That is too bad too because a lot of the leads sound interesting but I can't quite make them out to really enjoy them.
My biggest problem with "Promo CD" comes from the vocalist. Apart from his vocals overtaking most of the demo, his vocals need a little production work. I'm sure from the sound of the demo that he is probably a killer live performer with his guttural roar as loud as it is. But on a recording a vocalist needs to work at getting the best out of one's voice and not the most energetic or brutal. His deep guttural parts are great for most Death Metal listeners but he tries to vary it with some shrieking punctuations. This is not his best. The shrieks could use some rounding off a bit. A lot of this is probably not the vocalist's fault - as a lot of these problems could have easily been rendered void with a better production and mix.
This is not a bad demo for the band. STYGIA has a lot of talent that they show in glimpses here and there on it. The poor production and mix really negate most of the good song writing elements and performances. The band is young and they need to keep moving. This is not their best work, I can tell and I would love to hear something more from them.
Songs to check out: "From the Depths (Short Version)".
(Online November 6, 2007)