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Released: 2011, Self Released
Stilllife is a northern Michigan band that plays a brand of progressive metal that is utterly American in its approach and vintage in its sonics. Formed in the early 2000’s the band is still cranking away at a shot at a record deal and recognition. REQUIEM is the latest offering from the band, an album title that lacks any originality, an utterly predictable and overused word in prog metal. Thankfully, the music within more than merits further exploration, with obvious influences that include Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, Queensryche and maybe often forgotten Texas legends, Watchtower. Dream Theater influence, refreshingly, is absent on this album and there are no keyboards.
Stilllife’s REQUIEM proves there is still a genuine do-it -yourself ethic in music today. From the opening track it is evident that this is self-produced, as it lacks that extra punch and fidelity that you expect from most albums these days, including demos. Sure there are some frequencies missing, but I did not find this had a negative impact on the album. In fact, it is refreshing. Vocalist Eric Charbonneau shares guitar duties with his brother and comes across as a hybrid of Ripper Owens and Angel Dust’s Dirk Thurisch. Musically, the first six tracks are all independent of any concept, while the last three do in fact venture into concept territory. Instrumental “Directive Four” is probably the most direct and retro-sounding of all the tracks, showcasing a nice mid-paced main riff. “12-Steps” gets busy, with numerous directions and a long instrumental passage in the middle, harmonically channeling Helloween’s Keepers era. Maybe the best track is the epic “Hypocriticism/The Becoming” another retro number that illustrates clearly Eric’s “Ripper” similarities. Clocking in at over 10 minutes, it loses steam in places (as do most 10 minute songs now that I think about it). Still, it is a worthy track that admirably presents the talents of this band and their potential.
However, after listening to this album a couple of times the whole way through, I have to contradict myself partially and say that while in some ways it is refreshing, the production really hampers the sonics of this album. These are songs that really cry for a higher fidelity knob job and the guitars are just way louder than anything else. Understandably, this is an unavoidable result of self-production and lack of a major label’s budget. Summing things up, Stilllife is a band that certainly deserves monitoring, and fans of John Arch Fates Warning era, old Queensryche, and Watchtower will enjoy REQUEIM. The band is currently working on new material, and it will be interesting to see how they progress.
1. Intro to…
2. A Godless World
4. Fruit of the Fallen Tree
5. Directive Four
6. Hypocriticism/The Becomin
7. Requiem Part I: The Oracle
8. Requiem Part II: The Vision
9. Requiem Part III: The Only Resolution
Eric Charbonneau - Vocals, Guitars
Joe Melin - Guitars
Nate Charbonneau - Bass
Jeremy Charbonneau - Drums
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