Crossbearer – Too Damn Hype (1994)
Into The Wire – Edison (1995)
Croatoan Hypertension (2005) / Candlelight (2006)
Thugcore rhythms. Slayer-esque metalcore. Faux melodic Swedish death metal. Aggro-tech fretboard gymnastics. Screamo. Genres with hyphens. Easy to swallow, run of the mill, forgettable and just like everything else crowding the Best Buy and mom ‘n pop store shelves.
Those are things you won’t find on or say about Croatoan, the first new album from Philadelphia’s long lost yet recently awakened tech metal band Starkweather. Emerging from a lengthy hibernating period –their last recording, Into The Wire, came out in 1995- Starkweather offer Croatoan, an untamed beast of a record that’ll draw fans of ‘legendary’ bands like Morbid Angel and Voivod, that’ll attract fans of slow, sludgy bands like Crowbar and Neurosis, and that’ll entice fans of current darlings like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, and The Red Chord into its lair.
Technical. Precise. Thought out. Uncompromisingly brutal. Carefully calculated, but not calculating. Those are things they’ll say about Croatan. “They” being metal snobs, tastemakers, headbangers, true metal fans, and rock critics.
Starkweather formed in 1989 with Todd Forkin on guitar, Michelle Eddison on bass, Harry Rosa on drums, and Rennie Resmini on vocals. They released the extreme metal gem Crossbearer in 1993, and it’s an underground neo-classic that many of today’s metal darlings have taken influence and inspiration from. Crossbearer was truly ahead of its time, and while many have heard of it but even fewer have actually heard it, it’s an album that doesn’t sound like anything else and is inimitable. After Into The Wire, Starkweather released a split seven inch with Season To Risk in 1996, and contributed a track to the Definitely Not The Majors compilation collection in 1997. Ultimately, and somewhat abruptly, Starkweather disappeared off the radar. But in reality, they were flying under it. They even played shows, however sporadically, including a Hellfest appearance. They’ve endured periods of dormancy, but they never really broke up, so, please, don’t call Croatoan a “comeback.”
Starkweather have “officially” reawakened with Croatoan, featuring the core lone up of Resmini, Forkin, and Rosa, with contributions by Liam Wilson on bass and Jim Winters on guitar, and with additional percussion provided by Tim Simmons. While it’s their first release in nearly a decade, it’s fresh yet vicious, kinda like a grizzly on its first hunt for food after awaking from its hibernation period. The songs are length and complexly constructed, but every time you return to the album, you’ll unearth a new sound, a riff, a scream or a word that you didn’t quite catch the first time around.
Croatoan is an album that’s been 2 years in the making. The music was recorded at Wild Studio in Canada with Pierre Remillard. Vocals were laid down at Woodcrest Studio in a Philadelphia suburb with Tommy Lander. Mixing took place a year later back at Studio Wild, followed by mastering with Alan Douches. The band recruited Paul Romano, renowned for his visual work with Mastodon, Godflesh, and Nasum, to design the album’s arresting artwork.
Croatoan “sounds” like an album created by people who enjoy the physical craft of making and recording music. As a result, the album, with its deadly vocal attacks and all around musical mayhem, will strike a chord with music fans with finely tuned ears and discriminating tastes. Yet those who want it as abrasive as possible will also flock to Croatoan. The album is 100% trend free and it doesn’t want to please anyone but the members who made it. In this day and age, where making and manufacturing a CD is as commonplace as buying a loaf of bread, there needs to be that special something that separates the good from the god awful.
Croatoan has that special something, in that it doesn’t exist to please anyone or anything. The music speaks for itself, which is why no one in Starkweather chose to speak about the album for this bio. So, stop reading this piece of propaganda and go listen to the music. After you get your wits about you and restore your equilibrium – yes, it will knock you on your ass and you will go down for the count- you’ll go back in for another round with Croatoan. Good music does that to you. And there’s just not enough good metal out there these days.
Thankfully, there’s Croatoan: good metal powerful and ferocious enough to be the death knell for all the false, unoriginal, boring retreads out there –Amy Sciarretto
Official site: www.holyterror.com/starkweather