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Stemm - "Crossroads" (CD)

Stemm - "Crossroads" CD cover image

"Crossroads" track listing:

1. Salvation
2. Fleur De Lis
3. Dead Inside
4. Monster
5. What Do You Think Of Me Now
6. Left Behind
7. Before The Storm
8. Smile And Wave
9. Supernaut
10. Pulling Teeth
11. After The Tide

Reviewed by on September 2, 2011

"'Crossroads' finds Stemm trying to go in too many directions at once. The end result is an album that, while full of good performances, never completely to finds its groove."

Stemm's "Crossroads" is aptly named. The album finds the band at a junction between its previous hard-edged, Pantera-inspired sound and a more mainstream metal approach, as well as some overtly Southern rock influences. The end result is an album that's well-performed, but that feels a little scattered at times.

Songs like "What Do You Think Of Me Now," "Monster" and "Salvation" definitely follow the Pantera/HellYeah template, with groove-laden guitars and drums accompanying Joe Cafarella's Phil Anselmo-style vocals that alternate between clean singing and hardcore shouts. One slight disappointment is that drummer Dan Nelligan's parts seem to have lost some of the appealing looseness they had on the band's previous effort, "Blood Scent."

On the other hand, tracks like "Left Behind" and "Dead Inside" flirt with the sounds of Nickelback and Disturbed, with "Dead Inside" especially feeling like it was written to garner radio play. "After The Tide" goes into Skynrd territory, with a closing solo that feels appropriately "Freebird-ish."

Cafarella and Alex Scouten's guitar work is good regardless of the genre shifts, with a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" especially standing out. The starkly beautiful instrumental "Before The Storm" is also great. Still, those shifts in style do create a sense of imbalance that permeates the disc.

"Crossroads" finds Stemm trying to go in too many directions at once. The end result is an album that, while full of good performances, never completely to finds its groove.

Highs: "Supernaut," "What Do You Think Of Me Now" and "After The Tide."

Lows: The disc feels a bit disjointed, with two very different styles.

Bottom line: Not the most coherent album, but good performances count for a lot.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)