Recorded by Stömb. Mixed by Léo Natale at Axone Studio. Mastered by Pierrick Noel at Atelier Mastering. Photos by Nicolas Cazaux. Released on Klonosphere Records on Friday 17 March 2023.
For fans of Meshuggah, Tesseract, Tool, If These Trees Could Talk.
Formed in 2012, Stömb is an instrumental modern, progressive metal band from Paris, France, whose sound can be described as heavy, powerful, dark and poetic, always combining strong rhythms with ethereal atmospheres.
Following a couple of albums, The Grey (2015) and From Nihil (2020), which were separated by an EP, Duality (2017) which cemented the band’s musical identity, Stömb returns with their third album, Massive Disturbed Meta Art (2023) which is based on the concept of a mystical and spiritual journey, suggesting the use of psychotropic substances to reach through a trance-like state to read a higher state of altered consciousness to transcend of the human condition.
The album opens both quietly and dramatically with “The realm of delirium” (track 1) which sounds somewhere in the vicinity of a modern opera to which Meshuggah have been invited to play. “Sidereal lucid dreamer” (track 2) goes all out in a djent direction before periodically flipping everything to reveal a delicate undercurrent of interwoven melody and gentleness. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the album.
The opening riff to “Kaleidoscope” (track 3) has an almost Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) vibe to it. Again, this song twists and turns between soulfully delicate, impassionately electronic and heavily hostile. Which brings us nicely to “The extantrasy” (track 4)—is that even a word?—where the band pulls out all the Die Krupps electronic industrial toys and plugs it into a twisted Meshuggah-style riff. It’s really rather good.
“Meta art” (track 5) opens with a delicately picked riff over a throbbing bass that is soon accompanied by a saxophone playing a mournful melody and then consumed by a heavy riff. There is an urgency about this anxiety-inducing track. Effective stuff! “In the eye of Aghemahra” (track 6) turns firmly towards the experimental end of progressive metal into which it drops massive slabs of churningly heavy riffs.
“An absence of sun” (track 7) opens with a gentle, ascending keyboard arpeggio that soon blossoms into a short, pleasingly melodic track… that inevitably gets overshadowed by a devastatingly heavy riff that flattens all around it. “Of absolute white” (track 8) follows a similar path, contrasting dark and light passages until it results in a guitar/keyboard playoff that sounds like an early morning cat fight.
“The altered” (track 9) is a blast-beat-tastic track that explores various melodies and layers of instrumentation to create another anxious soundscape until it burns itself out and … fade to black. “Transcendance” (track 10) brings the album to a close with a quiet, slightly trippy melody that builds around the halfway mark to an emotional solo before a heartbeat-like drum brings all back to silence.
This album took me on an acoustic journey this past week. It accompanied me through some difficult days and startled me in the dark when I fell asleep listening to it and woke suddenly wondering what terrifyingly twisted soundtrack was filling my blackened room. But at the end of the day, I have developed a real affection for this album and band. If you like your progressive metal to be twisted, experimental and explorative, give this album a spin.
Review score: 90%
Viral Propaganda PR contacted me inviting me to preview Stömb’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Viral Propaganda PR or Stömb. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Viral Propaganda PR, and to Stömb for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.