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The overall material, sound and production of Stoker’s debut album is indicative of a band that’s been working tirelessly to create something truly professional and full of contrast.
The album leaves room for plenty of experimentation with ‘Hotbody Nobody’ standing out most of all as new territory. Its strange rotating verse rhythm constantly throws you off, grouping notes in threes and sixes rather than the conventional fours and eights, as much a puzzle for the ears to decipher as a musical experience. The inspiration for this approach must nod at least in part to Queens of the Stone Age, especially in the heavy fuzzed-up guitar tone and the addition of speedy piano segments in choruses. But more importantly, this album feels like the band is stepping out from the shadows of their idols and lending their own personal twist to their beloved genre, not simply emulating those that they admire.
In Stoker’s early days there was way too much screaming involved but with their first full-length album Chris Bornman has developed a distinctive, clean vocal style that’s completely his own. This welcome new dimension allows Stoker to delve into slightly softer and less raucous territory on occasion as well, proving the band capable subtlety as well as brute force. ‘A Feast’ and ‘Get Lost in This’ show off some of their most restrained work to date with a tendency towards beautiful mourning refrains. It’s a welcome new side that helps to create contrast on the entire work.
The album boasts a few of Stoker’s biggest bruisers too with tracks such as ‘Bloodstains’ and ‘My Jackal Your Wolf’, the former of which being one of my personal favourites on the album. Everything about ‘Bloodstains’ just works, from Bornman’s honed vocals to the odd punk rock stumble of the guitars.
Stoker’s debut is a turbulent ride through jagged territory with occasional moments of restraint, a thoroughly gripping experience for those who like their rock n’ roll with a side of sinister.
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Listen to “Stoker” below on Deezer.