Sound: Pretty much every metalhead has heard of Pantera, and Dimebag Darrell. If you haven't, go check them out, they're f*cking awesome. Because of this awesomeness, there are many bands who are trying to replicate Pantera's formula of awesome-ity.
STEMM is one of those bands. They even called "Blood Scent" their "Vulgar Display of Power". If you've heard one of the millions of mediocre Pantera-rip off bands, you just cringed when you read that.
Luckily, STEMM is far from mediocre. They, like the Pantera-rip offs, have replicated the sound of Phil Anselmo's dirty vocals and Dimebag's guitar mastery. Most fail to capture the backbone of Pantera's sucess, the groove laid down by Vinnie Paul and Rex Brown. STEMM do not. Dan Nelligan's drumming has the beat and hard-hitting certainty of Vinnie Paul, but does not fall into the common trap of replicating a drum machine. He does not lack technical ability, but his drumming is organic and feels real (as shown by his some of his drum fills, that sometimes seem as though they missed a beat). This simply adds to the beat and groove of the tracks.
Now, onto the music. "Blood Soaked" is the album's opening track, and you can instantly hear the Pantera influence on these guys. Well, after the intro. They sound like Pantera, but add their own originality and freshness to their music. The riffs laid down by the two guitarists are heavy as f*ck, and they make you move with the music.
"House of Cards" will be recognizable to all you UFC fans out there. This track shows a more "commercial" sound to STEMM, but still retain their heaviness. The vocals are not as heavy in this track, and sound eerily similar to John Bush.
The album is arranged very well, with no similar sounding tracks in a row. The album has a pretty wide spectrum of tempo and heaviness, and it sounds very polished and complete. Adding to the strength of the album is the fact that album doesn't really have any bad tracks. My least favorite is probably "Beneath My Skin", a ballad that is good, but doesn't compare to tracks like "Broken Face Masterpiece" or the cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Wish".
STEMM has made a full and great sounding album with "Blood Scent". They stay true to their influences *cough* Pantera *cough*, while staying fresh and exploring new territory. // 10
Lyrics: Joe Cafarella does a fantastic job has a vocalist. He is pretty versatile, bringing the heavy a la Phil Anselmo, or cleaner like John Bush.
The lyrics can be angry, like Pantera, with lines like "As my blood falls to the floor, I paint the walls with what was" to more emotional lyrics, present on "Beneath My Skin". They lyrics are meaningful, emotional and are very good.
Not to mention Joe Cafarella is pretty damn good. // 9
Overall Impression: "Blood Scent" could definitely be compared to "Vulgar Display of Power", as they are both excellent albums and have the Pantera sound. The album is beautifully produced, sequenced and written. STEMM have made a near-perfect album, with a very diverse style and great riffs.
This is groove metal at its best. // 9