Chicago Metallers STARKILL should be considered one of the most hardworking and improved bands of 2016. Between their 2014 album Virus of the Mind and signing with Prosthetic Records, their long anticipated Shadow Sleep arrives on November 4, just in time for their tour with DARK TRANQUILLITY. Additionally, it is a release I have been looking forward to since January, and before I get started, I will say that it was well worth the wait.
Sirens ring in screaming STARKILL’S triumphant return with “Walk Through Fire.” From this song alone, you notice that their delivery is stronger than ever as it mixes Melodic Death and Symphonic Metal styles. I enjoy the combination of the grunts and clean vocals as the melody moves with abrasive riffs and engaging guitar solos. Next up is “Burn Your World” as it continues with a blistering momentum. During this song, you notice how much they have excelled, and this new direction showcases a strong production quality where the melody consistently swings its way through different techniques.
“Through the Darkness” is where I heard a vast amount of Symphonic Metal influences and I wonder if during their time with EPICA they found some inspiration and tips from the genius himself, Mark Jansen. “Shadow” enters with a scream as the instrumentals breakdown shortly after. It shifts between Symphonic to Melodic Death as the styles continue to fluctuate. The album moves into “Cloudless,” and I am lucky enough to have heard it live a few times already. Listening to it on a recorded, well-produced album is a new experience though, as it is one of the most poetic and dramatic tracks thus far.
Female vocals are added to “Piece of Paradise” as it enhances the story of heartbreak, struggle and trying to regain one’s strength. “Ruin” enters next with a soft and atmospheric introduction that could be part of a horror film score. However, this does not last long as it unfolds into one of the sludgier tracks on the album. What’s interesting are the grunting vocals that move well with the coarse guitar riffs while it builds up to the halfway mark and blows up into an impressive instrumental break. The engaging explosives continue with “Into the Grey” as it sucks you in from the beginning with a lofty guitar riff.
“Razors Edge” introduces the second half of the album with an invigorating approach as it runs with emotive hooks. “No Savior” comes in showcasing anger while questioning one’s personal beliefs. Despite having an initial negative outlook, the song itself is quite inspiring as it influences all to control your own destiny. The album drifts away from religious viewpoints and moves towards politics with “Erase Me.” The song is filled with rage. “Farewell” seems to explore the emotion of feeling betrayed where someone is afraid to learn how to trust again.
The album concludes with “Captive of Night” as it moves with dramatic riffs, a coarse scream, and female vocals at a high pitch octave. I can highly recommend STARKILL’S Shadow Sleep as it is safe to say this is their strongest album to date. Pick up your copy wherever you buy music on November 4 and be sure to catch them on the road when they come to your town!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Walk Through Fire”, “Burn Your World”, “Through The Darkness”, “Cloudless”, “No Savior”, “Captive Of Night”