Review Summary: Stella's first full length album lives up to the promise of their EP, delivering a musically proficient and artistically sound rendition of the Hardcore / Progressive genre.
Earlier this year, Stella released their first full-length album entitled “Surrey’s Finest” and it certainly lives up to its ambitious title. From their consistently daring and impressive use of sound, to their no-apologies-never-watered-down genre approach, Stella exceeds expectations with their sophomore release.
As Stella continues the hard road that is the music industry, endlessly producing music and touring, it is clear that they are quickly refining their superb sound, which is part-As I Lay Dying and part-Refused. And yes, to answer the obvious question with the even more obvious answer, it sounds just as great as you'd hope.
Listen to the stunning use of sound in each track. “Jakub’s Lullaby” opens with scattershot energy before exploding into intense screams. Then “Hurricane Ross” -- the album’s single, which also has a music video -- penetrates the skull with glorious guitar riffs and impressive lyricism. “3rd Lung”, which is arguably the album’s greatest asset, poses enigmatic questions for the attentive ear. How did Stella manage to combine techno-playfulness with Hardcore / Progressive tropes without it sounding ridiculous? I will never know for certain, but the answer resides in this: Stella is musically sound and know what the hell they’re doing. The result is something rare and impressive.
Stella continues to infuse their music with imaginative lyrics and an unquestionable degree of fun and energy. It’s hard not to throw up the devil-horns and rock out while this album blares in the background -- or foreground depending on where you are. Either way, with talented musicians like this -- the guitar work is once again a standout -- there are many reasons to hope Stella continues to produce albums faithful to their roots, inspirations, and genre.
The entire package is professionally produced and pain-stakingly composed. Each track is surrounded by uniquely different tracks, never lulling the ear into laziness or the mind into a sense of predictability. “Surrey’s Finest” will keep you on edge throughout, and like their previous release “A Moment to Reflect,” Stella continues to accomplish something rare: each track, while unique in rhythm and tone, somehow bleeds into the next effortlessly and without notice. The "groovecore" genre that Stella is attempting to pioneer on this album comes through in certain tracks where melodic tunes and rap-like verses collide into some incredibly unique creations.
“Surrey’s Finest” sees only a few missteps during its runtime. If any major complaint could be levelled against such a release, it would have more to do with the Hardcore genre than it would with what Stella has accomplished here. Hardcore is inherently limited in appeal, so it will not convert any who are uninitiated. However, for those who already appreciate what the genre has to offer, there is absolutely no reason you should not add this to your collection. Track down a copy -- or download some of the tracks on iTunes -- and reap the rewards of this stella-r release. Between this and "A Moment to Reflect", Stella has hit the ground running.