STIGMA are in that precarious position of wading through the dank, uniform sludge from which the shoots of inspired Death Metal bands flourish. They are decidedly average, judging by “Non Furtum Facies”, but that doesn't mean that they are without promise.
The workmanlike Death that the band belt out is devoid of much in the way of frills or thrills, that said, there are few spills either. There are seedling ideas in there trying to find light amongst the shade of the competition but the confidence and fluidity required to boost them towards the canopy isn't much in evidence. Some of the riffs here sound laboured and deliberate, there is no flourish and so there is a sense of being disjointed. Whilst these tracks pound along at a sprightly speed, they don't leave you eating dust and frankly with this form of Death Metal you should be coughing your lungs out from the smoke in their trail.
STIGMA keep the formula basic, they don't attempt any firework displays and are content to keep their heads down, concentrating on meat & two veg rhythm accentuated by acidic lead motifs that corkscrew across the main body of the instrumentation. There is plenty of chug to keep a live audience bouncing, there is meat in the broth but it is still a rude and simple meal, it'll stop your belly rumbling but you'll still be want for more. Despite all, there is a crude charm about this album, it's enough to prevent it sounding tedious and despite the hint of clumsiness, there is energy aflicker within.
The vocals are typical cookie monster throat collapse, they suffer from the usual flatness of expression but when they veer into feline snarl or hag whispers interest levels rise. Whilst simplicity is an anchor on some of these songs, on others it is a billowing sail, “Beast Of Pray” demonstrates where STIGMA have their most potential. This track is uncluttered yet vibrant, the band have found the vein and make positive progress, they show they do have the ability to loosen muscles and get those necks flexing and toes twitching. Elsewhere interest is piqued but lack of consistency takes its toll, when STIGMA get it right though, you can envision them taking a step or two up the ladder.
For now, STIGMA are on the cusp of greater endeavour, they have plenty going for them and developing of the positives, together with a loosening up born by increased confidence, should see them gaining wider recognition. Keep watching, after all mighty oaks from little acorns grow and squirrels get to play with their nuts.
(Online January 26, 2008)