Review Summary: Can less equal more?
The thing that turned me on to Stolas more so than their apparent talent was the completely organic approach they took in creating their sophomore release Allomaternal
. There was no pretense, no gimmick, no shameless pandering to the masses that were swiftly being wooed by the spectacle that was Dance Gavin Dance and A Lot Like Birds, just good old fashioned practice and maturity resulting in a product not wholly unlike its predecessor yet somehow better in every way. Self-titling their third album is a subtle gesture towards Stolas’ new three-pronged attack after releasing guitarist and lead vocalist Jason Welche into free agency. Charging into the unknown with drummer Carlo Marquez serving duel lead singer/drummer duties, Stolas delve a little deeper into their cerebral brand of post-hardcore. Like previous efforts, Stolas
isn’t out to “melt-faces”, “crush skulls” or any other disfiguring horrors, it’s more or less a thinking-man’s post hardcore, a technically proficient progressive album with heavy post-hardcore elements rather than the reverse. This approach is very conducive to the group’s mentality and it’s wonderfully realized throughout the album. A realization due to the fact that Stolas quietly boasts some of the best musicians in the scene. Sergio and Carlo in particular shine brightest on Stolas
, and with the former having complete control over the rhythm and lead guitars and the latter delivering another stellar performance, the band has never sounded tighter or more creative.
The vocals however remain a weak point for the group on Stolas
. Carlo does a serviceable job on his first stint as lead, but with the progress Welche showed in Allomaternal
erased and the artistic decision to forgo screaming, the vocal melodies become dull after a few listens and are frequently delivered with little charisma. The problem isn’t solely Carlo’s however as the progressive nature of Stolas
doesn’t exactly lend to flamboyant vocal stylings. Much like Allomaternal
there’s an energy present throughout Stolas
, an energy that simultaneously propels and fuels the album and is the reason the album lacks staying power. Moodiness is a non-factor as Stolas
progresses at a very defined pace and lacks dynamism in the song structures, relying (and largely succeeding) on the variety of technical treats peppered within the framework of the songs. The hi-hat play in album highlight “Catalyst” is fantastic, particularly in the chorus, and the way Sergio utilizes string bending in “Euphoria” is clever and original, but these treats only reveal themselves to a certain variety of music listeners. Regardless of its shortcomings, Stolas
is not a regression. The sound is a natural evolution from what the group gave us in Allomaternal
. The highs are not as high and there isn’t anything that could be called a low point, but for what it is, Stolas
is a technical marvel, created by robots with mathematical precision. But I can’t help but feel if the boys let loose and created a balls-to-the-wall rock album, they would set this scene alight.