Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Album Review: The Stifled by The Stifled

The Stifled are a four piece punk rock band from Baltimore, Maryland, USA. At the beginning of the year the band, featuring Josh Pickett (vocals/guitar), Tim Syzmanski (guitar), Colin Brooks (bass) and Ronnie Snyder (drums), released a brand new self titled EP. I stumbled across the EP on Bandcamp and was taken in by the artwork, simply a fire hydrant pouring out water onto the road. From there I encountered an intense melodic punk rock that I couldn't stop listening to.

The EP begins with the track Bite. Bite ensures that the EP begins in empowering style with a ferocious track about fighting back against "the man." I'm reminded of early Rise Against here with the combination of raspy vocals, melodic guitars, a driving drumbeat and a powerful message. The track is pretty relentless, rarely slowing – this momentum gives the track another feeling of empowerment and really makes you want to get up and fight back. Up next is the song Frustration. It starts out with slick guitar riff and some pounding drums before a huge primal scream explodes the song into life. I was expecting the track to go full steam ahead but it actually slows back down, slowly building back up to that big high. Frustration is about the damaging effects of the Internet, all of the false truths that are published and trying to find a way to take a stand against this. I really enjoyed the fast paced melody that is delivered in the chorus, it fills the song with a great energy.

The third song, Sh*thead, is a short track at just over a minute long but it still manages to pack in a lot into its time frame. Everything here is delivered at top speed as Pickett sings about not being the best version of yourself and slowly realising this. When I first looked at the tracklisting on the EP I kind of just assumed that Sh*thead would be a bit throwaway but in truth I loved it. Short, fast and a lot of fun. The penultimate song is titled Fractured Ethos. This song, perhaps more than any other on the EP, flits between hardcore and pop punk at times, creating an interesting contrast that keeps things feeling fresh. When The Stifled play a poppier style, their music is full of hooks and catchy melodies but you know when they start building to the hardcore sound and that big hoarse growl, it's going to get animalistic. The final song on the EP is Deep Down. It begins with an almost chant-like verse that will get a live crowd involved from the outset, before some much quicker vocals appear. This adds energy to the song, but it also makes it a little lighter before a chorus with heavier vocals, along with group shouts, make the track sound huge. The song finishes with a big shout-along section that will, again, quickly get a live crowd truly on board. A great way to finish this EP.

I really, really enjoyed The Stifled. These days I don't listen to the harder side of punk rock that much but this was really my can of coke. The Rise Against comparison is an obvious one but The Stifled throw their own twist on the style. The Stifled are a band you should be checking out, they might just explode.

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This review was written by Colin Clark.

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