Starkweather
This Sheltering Night


4.5
superb

Review

by HSThomas USER (33 Reviews)
July 17th, 2010 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Starkweather's finest hour.

Starkweather have been around for over two decades now and yet still they continue to respire. Their music is considered influential in the pioneering of the metalcore genre. However to Starkweather they refer to their part in birthing such a controversial genre as like spreading cancer. This hatred of their own progeny is the truth that their music is based upon; the sludgey yet progressive, intricate and, in its own twisted way, melodic sound. For twenty one years they have created this music to the few who would listen. Now their fourth offering is here and it is easily their best yet.

Just like previous albums, This Sheltering Night is a hardened and embittered entity that takes time to understand. Rennie's vocals are still as claustrophobic with their seeming forcedness, the guitar riffs are still slow yet unpredictable with their odd time signatures and the song structures are as still the same controlled chaos they were before, interlinked with acute melody and dissonance in equal measure. These are all the conventions of Starkweather's sound yet here they are tightened to an even greater degree. The details are honed down to the tiniest cogs that make up this pocket watch of an album. Nothing is wasted; the repetition is kept within precise lengths and any unnecessary instrumentation is discarded. The result is an album that is more cohesive in its binding of acidic melodies to dissonance and one that can be deconstructed to an even greater level than before. Little cogs such as the guitar solos on "One Among Vermin" can be appreciated in this timepiece of an album as much as the unity of every single one of these elements allows for whole songs to be enjoyable.

Yet for its minute construction, This Sheltering Night is far from cold and mechanical. In fact it is Starkweather's most evocative piece so far. The album is laced with supposed faux emotion through forced instrumentation. Indeed Rennie's vocals are one or two notches more forced than before, the guitars riffs and bass lines are weighted with more lead, hammered in by extra acoustics and electronics and even more unpredictable drum patterns. However, through the use of the careful songwriting, Starkweather used these improved elements as the watchmaker uses his small tools. They play with the cogs of the listener's mind, eliciting purposeful emotions. The album captivates and then pulls the listener through a plethora of emotions, from the horror of Rennie screaming "mother ekidna lays with animals, rip her flesh, break her bones" upon "Broken From Inside" to the sadness of the lost piano within "Receive." This journey is nearly one smooth movement, never relenting in dragging the listener through a void of thousands of clocks chiming in echoes before dimming to silence as they confront the images of serial violence and despair in their own isolation. This album exudes terror, desperation and many other emotions as it tells its story.

This story is not one of words, indeed at certain times Rennie's vocals are submerged beneath layers of sound, but one of the musical whole. It's emotional power makes This Sheltering Night feels more like a story than any other Starkweather album with the introduction of mordant instrumentals. These instrumental sections not only act as transitions but help to channel the ever changing emotions from one song to the next. They are not merely filler but integral to the album, pushing both the listener and the story forward. Because of these sections, this album may lack the fullness of music that bound Croatoan with the lesser number of true songs. However it feels more rich in texture, more purposeful in telling a story and overall more complete. There are moments of excess, the ending of "All Creatures Damned and Divine" and the opening of "Epiphany" with their chugging repetition but these moments are slight. They still mesh well into the whole of the album's sound and do nothing to detract from the overall experience.

In the end though, like all Starkweather albums, this is hard-shelled, an album that will not appeal to everyone and one that requires patience and an attentive ear to listen to. For all the time and emotional exhaustion though, one will be rewarded with a story that is subtle but vibrant in the darkest emotions, a rare musical moment within a saturated world. For such a moment it will be hard to improve upon this album as the band have always progressed upon every release yet here they may have reached their denouement, their finest hour. However one can do nothing but wonder...



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Comments:Add a Comment 
eternium
July 17th 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Now there fourth offering
*their Edit: Nevermind, you fixed it.

Also I like it when album titles are italicized.

Ironic that the band says that it hates metalcore, yet is signed to Deathwish, which contains so many
important metalcore/hardcore bands and is owned by Jacob Bannon.

eternium
July 17th 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Eh, nah.

I've only listened to this band off of what I could find off of YouTube. Do they not have one album that's more monumental than the rest? That's what I usually start with.

eternium
July 17th 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Alright.

Raz0rGrind23
July 18th 2010


426 Comments


Wow, completely forgot about these guys. I have Croatoan but that one to this day is tough to get into. How does this one stack up to that one and where can I hear this puppy?

Raz0rGrind23
July 18th 2010


426 Comments


Nice, before Myspace wasn't coming for these guys but I found it finally. Unfortunately they only have Broken From Inside for listening. Its not bad. Ya gotta hand it to these guys. They definitely make music for themselves and have a sound all of their own. I'll have to spend some time with this one....if I can get my hands on a copy. I don't know if I want to spend money on a full copy before hearing it.

Wilding from Croatoan is one of my all time favorites by these fellers. The vocals sound inhuman.

Volt2187
July 18th 2010


241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I prefer Croatoan, but this is still an ace album. Up there for aoty. Also, not all of the songs on this are new, some are from the Croatoan era (Bustuari, All Creatures Damned And Divine, and Epiphany).

Bleekill
July 18th 2010


832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I like this album a lot the only thing I need to get used too is the clean vocals. They sort of hinder it for me but maybe ill grow to like them. Good review.

Volt2187
July 18th 2010


241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really the review is pretty good, though maybe expand on the vocals a tad more. They are so unique that they could make or break a persons liking to the band.

Croatoan just seems to have a few more tracks with umph to them, while TSN is more of a long journey. My favorite part so far is 3:10 - 4:06 of Broken From Inside. I love the melodic riff and crazy ass vocals. Sounds like he is dying. Still need to give it more spins though.

And yeah, the vocals take a long time to adjust to. Both cleans and harsh.

O and you might like this interview HSThomas, it explains the recording of this album pretty good.

http://hearwaxmedia.com/4297/transmissions-starkweather-interview

If it doesn't bring up the article just search for Starkweather, its the first one that comes up.

Bleekill
July 18th 2010


832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I think you covered it pretty well. Also, I've only listened to this album about 2 or 3 times so far, haven't been in the mood but I'm definitely going to give it more listens soon and that might change my rating.

accompliceofmydeath
July 19th 2010


4302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review again. Fucking love this album.

Digging: Snapcase - Progression Through Unlearning

BallsToTheWall
July 20th 2010


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Seriously did not see this on the front page. Mother fuck. Ace work Jansen.

BallsToTheWall
July 20th 2010


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haven't heard any other worthwile metal releases but indie-electronica has been growing stronger as the year progresses.

accompliceofmydeath
July 21st 2010


4302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The intro to All Creatures Damned and Divine sounds like a Today is the Day song. I think something off of Supernova.

wharrgarble
August 14th 2010


9 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album was so important to me I bought the cd and the vinyl. The cd comes with the ambient interludes, while the vinyl is just the songs. Essential as far as im concerned

accompliceofmydeath
October 27th 2010


4302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Why did I stop listening to this for a couple of months? This shits great!

eternium
November 28th 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So immense and harsh.

eternium
December 22nd 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The melodies on this album are just insane. I really need to get more of their stuff.

accompliceofmydeath
December 22nd 2010


4302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've heard Crossbearer is the best, but I've only heard this, Croatoan and Into the Wire which are all amazing.

eternium
December 22nd 2010


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll probably get Croatoan next.

accompliceofmydeath
December 22nd 2010


4302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good choice.



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