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stOrk - Broken Pieces

stOrk – CD Review
Broken Pieces





CD Info
MUSO Entertainment
13 Tracks
English Lyrics

Avant-garde progressive metal radiates in many wavelengths. The ultraviolet end of the spectrum scorches and torments. In this extreme wavelength there are prog metal bands so harsh that they may be difficult to distinguish from technical death metal. In complete contrast, the infrared range is occupied by experimental bands that emit huge amounts of embracing, comforting warmth, surrounding you with a happy glow. stOrk is one of the warmest prog metal bands I’ve heard.

It’s also one the most unpredictable, and very much so on this second album, Broken Pieces. The band integrates so many styles that it’s difficult to categorize into any sub-genre of prog metal. That’s the way I like my metal – exploring, probing, testing new approaches and developing unique music. The metal framework for the album as a whole is undeniably progressive. The components assembled by stOrk, however, are derived from styles ranging from alternative, through the melodic and symphonic, and into the realms of djent.

stOrk’s music extends beyond metal. It draws in delicious tastes of blues and jazz, just as good djent often does. For the band’s sheer inventiveness and musicality, imagine a combination of To-Mera (one of my favourite avant-garde prog metal bands) and District 97 (which, with its forays into jazz and blues, is one of my favourite neo-progressive rock bands).

Better yet, listen to this track from the album, Paper Angels. It kicks off with smooth, bluesy vocals that segue into the compelling riff that steers you through the rest of the track. From there, symphonically metal vocals become a prelude to a set funky, jazzy guitar chords. Hear how snugly the bass and lead guitar stream into each other. Listen how the keyboards urge the song forward. Feel the sweet nudge from the percussive hooks, and bask in a short but lilting guitar solo. Ah, and through it all, that smoky contralto voice!

If “Paper Angels” grabs you, it’s my pleasure to declare that there are 12 other tracks which are equally good. That adds up to more than an hour of excellence.

Sadly and poignantly, that video will become a tribute and a memorial to Shane Gibson, founding member of the band and destined for greatness as one of the most talented guitarists in metal. Shane, just 35 years old, died of a rare blood-clotting disorder two weeks before Broken Pieces was released. The band stated: “Shane was one of the best guitar players the world has ever known and his virtuosity was matched only by his wit and generosity of spirit. He will be missed beyond measure. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all those who loved him as much as we did.” We at SC also offer our condolences.

Before stOrk, Shane was guitarist for Korn, the globally respected avant-garde metal band. He founded stOrk as a joint adventure (not a mere venture, note) with Thomas Lang, session drummer, in 2010. Their first album, stOrk, was released in 2011. That debut confirmed their quality and placed them among the front-runners in experimental metal.

Thomas and Shane demonstrated their considerable musical savvy when they extended the band for Broken Pieces. They recruited Kelly LeMieux, formerly of Buck Cherry and Medadeth, as bassist. For a completely new approach to vocals they brought in the quite astounding VK Lynne. The resulting album is a stunningly good synthesis of four huge talents. I may add that from the first track I heard on the new album, VK instantly plonked herself on the top shelf in my estimation of female vocalists.

The vision that the foursome shared was to retain the bands’ “dark, aggressive, futuristic sound” while injecting a lyrical element to match the intensity of the music. That vision has been fully realised on Broken Pieces. The album is more than a feast. It’s a 13-course banquet fit for the most discerning connoisseur.

Rating: 9 / 10

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