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Stalingrad - "Stalingrad" (CD)

Stalingrad - "Stalingrad" CD cover image

"Stalingrad" track listing:

1. I Am Your Friend The Leech (5:01)
2. raW (3:57)
3. State Of Hypocrisy (6:09)
4. Died And Forgotten (4:03)
5. Con Of Man (3:43)
6. Sins (3:52)
7. Devil's Workshop (4:48)
8. Asphyxiation (4:54)
9. Battle Of Stalingrad (6:25)

Reviewed by on July 29, 2009

"Stalingrad’s debut album does one major thing right; displays a high level of potential for the near future."

World War II history buffs know the city of Stalingrad, Russia as the location of one of the bloodiest battles in history, a fight between Russians and Nazi Germany and its allies during an almost seven-month period between July 1942 and February 1943. This was a major turning point in WWII, as Germany suffered their biggest defeat at the time. Over 65 years later, four musicians from Canada have brought the name of Stalingrad back to life.

While the battle itself is transformed into an epic closer, the rest of the nine tracks range in topics from hatred to prejudice to disdain for organized religion. All of these tracks are held together by mid-paced thrash melodies, with the occasional speedy section tacked on. The band pulls no punches, but doesn’t attempt to broaden their sound beyond the fury and groove-infused sound that hits the listener immediately on the first track. There isn’t anything on “Stalingrad” that hasn’t been heard before by hundreds of faceless acts, but the band does a competent job of working from the shallow waters of creativity.

Like the majority of modern debut albums, “Stalingrad” goes through peaks and valleys, one moment impressing and the next providing a cringe-worthy reaction. For every great solo lies an awful verse or a sloppy transition around the corner. The band self-produced their debut, and it shows in many places. The drums are tinny, especially evident in the cymbal work and the bass is non-existent, save for a few lead sections that are mixed way too low. Time must have been a factor in the studio, since a few songs sound like the band is struggling to keep up with each other, leading to a few awkward moments.

It’s a shame that the production hinders Stalingrad’s debut, since there are a few gems on the album. “State Of Hypocrisy” has a catchy chorus, complete with a great extended solo section that features everything from fast finger-tapping to endless shredding. If there is one thing that Stalingrad knows how to write, it is an infectious chorus, saving “Devil’s Workshop” and “Sins” from mediocrity. The closing track “Battle Of Stalingrad” is nearly fantastic, save for some vexing instrumental work near the end, and shows the most poignant lyrics of the album, as the story of a battle spanning months is somehow squeezed into a littler over six minutes.

On the subjects of lyrics, “Stalingrad” will either offend, incite laughter with its blatant grasps at shock value, or entertain the listener with tales of liars and thieves posing as historical religious figures. While vocalist Zeeshan Raheel is credited with all the lyrics, there seems to be multiple personalities at work here. While “Raw” has a contemporary look at how greed controls our wars, “Con Of Man” uses every racial slur in the book to drive home the message of prejudice in humanity. Throughout the album, religion always seems to be Raheel’s main target. His handling of this topic is much more juvenile compared to the others; with lines such as “I killed God, I killed that cocksucker” and “Burn the churches, burn the mosques, burn the temples, burn it all,” somebody out there is guaranteed to be offended.

Stalingrad’s debut album does one major thing right; displays a high level of potential for the near future. With better production, more time in the studio, and less emphasis on shocking lyrics, Stalingrad could have what it takes to make a name for themselves. Metal fans who live and breathe thrash and all incarnations of it will most likely want to sign up as foot soldiers to Stalingrad, but the album does have limited mainstream appeal due to its weighty lyrical content and lack of polish in its production.

Highs: Solid guitar work, superb lyrics on closer "Battle Of Stalingrad," tons of potential

Lows: Lyrics may irk a few listeners, nothing innovative, lackluster production

Bottom line: With better production and more focused songwriting, Stalingrad could have a bright future; for now, their eponymous debut album is nothing more than an average modern thrash album.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

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)