Sound: Stardown is a really hard band to find, sadly. I actually discovered these guys in the short-lived MMO game A.P.B. (All Points Bulletin) on the 'Metal' "radio station" in the game. If there's one thing Electronic Arts, APB's game publisher, is good at: It's finding great unsigned or underrated bands. Stardown is a great example. They have one album (this one here) which was originally released in 2006, and their website seems to suggest a 2nd album coming out in December 2010 entitled: Venom. The band is Russian, but uses English lyrics in their songs.
Their sound is hard to categorize. To me, they feel like a combination of Lamb of God, In Flames and Static-X. Their sparse MySpace page describes them as Metal/Thrash, and that's true to an extent. I'd say that you should probably listen to them for yourself to determine that. If you like any one of those three bands above however, I'm sure you'd like this band. Generally speaking their guitars seem to be tuned in Drop B, have some very nice drums, topped with plenty of double bass, and the lead vocalist is very flexible on the album (but from what I've seen, does a terrible job singing when live; I'd say his strong point is screaming). The song the band is trying to promote is 'Shinjitsu' which is a nice enough track, but I find it kind of hokey in terms of the lyrics it uses and the guitar part sounds like something I would have written (I'm not very creative on the guitar). The first track from them I've ever heard was 'Can't Disroot'. I'd suggest listening to that track first since it incorporates just about everything they do on the album, short of any sound effects a couple other songs introduce (there are only a couple, they aren't trying to be FearFactory). I'm not going to sit here and tell you how groundbreaking they are, because they aren't. They are a big heaping dose of heavy metal, and a good one at that. So take it for what it is. Bottom line is: I want more. // 8
Lyrics: The album is extremely political in nature, which is okay I guess. Personally, I'm sick of hearing songs, jokes, recounts or anything about the George W. Bush administration. I don't care anymore. You'll know immediately what I'm talking about when you read track names like 'War For Oil', or 'Six Days', or possibly the chorus to 'Shinjitsu' ("We want to know the truth") or even the chrous of 'Inside Us' ("I have faith... in only one god" *Repeated over a few times*). I prefer the songs that are at least a little bit more clever with their political messages, or that have less to do with the happenings of 9/11 and Iraq war.
Luckily, the vocals on the albums are very strong. As I mentioned earlier, viewing a live performance on YouTube, his singing was god awful, but his screams were spot on compared to the album. I'm guessing the person mastering this record was being generous with computer assistance, or maybe the vocalist was just having an off day during the concert. But it doesn't take away from the fact that the vocals sound great.
Short of the two songs with the obvious titles and 'Shinjitsu', the vocals and music are a definite match made in heaven. See the song 'Such is Lifa (The Way)'. I think that was very well written. // 6
Overall Impression: I'd say my favorite tracks are going to be 'Can't Disroot' (since that's the one that got me hooked), 'Such Is Lifa (The Way)' and 'Emptiness'. Really though, I actually like listening to the whole album all the way through, though I think I could probably cut Shinjitsu and maybe Disrespect out of the album. They just seem unpolished. I'm not an expert on what songs sound good though. It's in the ear of the beholder. As I mentioned before, this sounds very much like Lamb of God, has some touches of In Flames due to the singing, and some of the guitar work can sound like Static-X, and maybe a touch of Fear Factory due to a little bit of synth and sound effects during intros & outros.
I love most of the guitar work, and the vocals are interesting most of the time. But most of all, I think it's great to just have more bands to listen to. This is a new band for me, and unlike a lot of my other favorites (Fear Factory, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, and many more) they are just getting started and are already on an Indie label so they have full control over what music they make. Hopefully that will translate to many more years of this band writing, touring and hopefully getting a bigger audience. They deserve it.
I'd love to buy this album again if it got damaged or stolen, but it's going to be hard to even buy it at all. The only place I was able to find it in a "timely" manner through Google searching was eBay, or possibly ordering it direct. Say no to piracy, kids. If you want a sample, hop on YouTube and Google 'Can't Disroot' for a taste. Order the album if you like it. The only way they'll grow is by supporting them. Hopefully they'll make more copies of this album available, and their new album coming this December will be available in mass quantities. // 8