Review Summary: GFOTY, complimented by intense instrumentation and guitar wizardry makes this an album to not ignore.
One of my favorite musicians, Will Swan, decided to start his own record label. The first band that he signed was Stolas. If Will Swan had deemed this band worthy to be the first band on his label, it stood to reason that they were worth checking out. The premier of the song “Madusa” had me enthralled and eagerly awaiting their debut album. Finally, Living Creatures is here and at the least it is a stimulating listening experience.
Right out of the gate, it is clear that guitarists Sergio Medina and Jason Weiche know their way around a fret-board. At the beginning of the first song “Thief & The Hourglass” the guitarists pound the listener with heavy yet melodic guitar riffs that tickle your ear drums. The song progresses from this to slower sections and then back to the onslaught. This is the norm for the entire cd. If you have listened to A Lot Like Birds or Dance Gavin Dance, you will be quite accustomed to this structure.
The main problem with this type of song structure is that it can be jarring; parts don’t seem to flow together and songs feel like a random assortment of parts. Stolas are pretty good at bypassing this flaw. Although a lot of parts could be taken from one song and placed into another without any considerable difference, they flow seamlessly together. For instance, the spoken word buildup into the solo near the end of “Our Last Night on Earth” is a great showcase of musicianship.
This album probably has the best collection of guest features a young band like this could hope for. I’m going to bullet point this list because it is so epic:
• Tilian Pearson – Dance Gavin Dance
• Jonny Craig
• Kurt Travis – A Lot Like Birds
• Cory Lockwood – A Lot Like Birds
• Donovan Melero – Hail The Sun
This is like the Oceans Eleven of albums. A truly superb cast that helps bring life to the album. One has to ponder the question as to why four of the five features are at the very end of the album. It would make more sense to spread them out evenly.
It is a good thing that these features are here though, because undoubtedly the weakest part of the album is the vocals. The clean vocalist is pretty good. He boasts a different tone than the rest of the bands in this post-hardcore scene. It is the harsh vocals that really drag down this album. There is just something about them that is grating to the ears. It’s really not that bad, but after giving the album a full run through, they feel very monotone and draining.
Even though some songs like “Panic” and “Destroyer” are kind of a miss, there are some real gems on here. The one minute interlude “The Greatest Illusion” is a mellow break with an infectious guitar riff and spoken word passage over-top. There is album highlights “Circuit Theory” and “Medusa”. Living Creatures also ends with the masterpiece that is “Captured Light”, a six minute barrage of guitar riffs and pulse pounding drums. This is easily the best track on the record.
Overall this is a great release, and anyone who spends time listening to the post-hardcore genre will find this a worthy addition to their collection. Make sure to pay attention to the Blue Swan Records roster, as it will be unlikely to disappoint; if Stolas is any indication.