Stigmatized - _Live in Despair_
(Disconcert Music, 2006)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (8 out of 10)
German old-school deathsters market themselves in the mold of classic bands like Death, Vader and Pestilence (a.k.a. "thrash death"), and with the vocal similarities between Stigmatized singer "Michael" and John Tardy of legends Obituary, color me officially on board. Everything is there, from the technical yet memorable riffs to the breakdowns, guitar solos and even pinch harmonics. That said, Stigmatized are capable of mixing it up with the modernist bands as well; the ringing, call to arms riff that opens "Submitted to Illusions" defies expectations with its guttural vocals, several songs after we have come to expect the Tardy-isms, which do in fact pop up a bit later in counterpoint.

It could be argued that no one does thrash better than the Germans, with a pretty good cross section of the genre heavyweights having emerged from the Teutonic hinterland; and in spite of the modern death metal influences, thrash is still the order of the day throughout _Live in Despair_. Cuts like "Crushing Beyond Belief" and "Unseen Force" find Stigmatized doing barrel rolls around the competition, one hair trigger riff after another testifying in all righteousness for the glory of the late '80s and early '90s, and making it all sound brand new in the process. With stellar production, world class chops, and in innate flair for what made thrash and Earache / Roadrunner-era death metal so goddamn -rocking-, Stigmatized assert their will on the reluctant malleability of the current extreme metal canon.

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(article published 25/5/2007)

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