Review Summary: Metalcore's roots seem to have grown into an entirely different beast over the years, Starkweather marking a vital part of the early beginnings of the confused genre.
A band that have gone largely unnoticed despite their massive influence on the Metalcore scene, Starkweather
were one of the first bands to successfully merge the best of both Hardcore and Metal into one amalgam. Though guitarist Todd Forkin has likened pioneering Metalcore to spreading cancer
, there is no doubt of their influence on the movement, especially their influence on a young Jacob Bannon, now of beloved Metalcore superstars Converge
. In 1992, Starkweather’s
bold debut album Crossbearer
hit the streets.
Here you will find none of the generic preliminary requirements that plague many modern Metalcore bands today. This album is heavy, it’s slow, it’s sludgy, it’s Punk, it’s Metal. The vocal styling of Rennie Resmini ranges anywhere from harsh screams, to slow, drawn-out croons that can curdle blood. Here, Starkweather
have seemed to combine the raw anger of Crust Punk and Hardcore with Heavy Metal, Sludge and Doom. It’s an unexpected venture for what is usually seen in your run-of-the-mill Metalcore, but then again, this isn’t generic. Starkweather’s
influences range anywhere from Sinéad O’Connor
, to Björk
, to Swans
, Dream Theater
and Fates Warning
. Small elements from all their influences can be found scattered throughout this record, whilst sticking true to its Hardcore and Metal roots.
Unlike Hardcore or Punk in general, this album contains hefty songs. Songs generally ranging from five to ten minutes in length is a far stretch from most Hardcore predecessors who keeps songs around the one to two minute mark. You can feel this is where their love of Metal can be found in their longer compositions and lack of traditional song structure. The band have created an album that is dissonant, it’s dense, it’s abrasive. There are thick, chugging guitars over heavy, pounding basslines, all tied together with Rennie’s fantastic vocal work. The band have many ideas at play here and they aren’t afraid to experiment. At some points you can heavily notice the influence on bands like Converge
, most prominently on songs like Shards/Unto Me
where the song occasionally segues into small melodic passages with some eerie clean vocals, in which I made a direct connection with Converge’s
The band have fantastic drummer at work on this record, his often-tribal beats complimenting the bass and Rennie’s vocals. It’s actually kind of staggering identifying all the ideas and influences being undertaken here, and funnily enough it works. In songs like Above the Rafters
I can even notice a minor Eastern influence, then later on the song plays out like a 70’s Heavy Metal ballad. Maybe that’s taking it too far, but that’s the best way I can describe it.
Genuine creativity, emotion and musicianship all came together to craft this fantastic debut from a rather (sadly) underground band. For any lover of music in general, this album brought new ideas to the table and executed them perfectly. Over the album’s one-hour run time, you won’t easily find yourself bored. It’s an engaging, full listen that surprises you right up to the last track.