Italian instrumental post-rock band Stearica have served up their second album, and such is the intensity of it that it’s almost like running a marathon. Well, probably a bit like that; I’ve never ran a marathon myself but I imagine you start out all bright, eager and full of energy, have a little bit of doubt in the middle, and then end strongly as you feel the finish line coming up.
‘Delta’ is a storming first song, all angular guitars, in your face bass and sizzling hi-hats; next track ‘Halite’ takes up where that leaves off, with pummelling in your face drums. Then, while you’re still reeling ‘Bes’ slides in. Lulling you in with it’s slowish start before the punishingly thumping bass and drums combo bludgeons you.
With these album openers offering a one-two-three knockout, you’re left wondering if you’ve got enough stamina to keep up with this pace throughout the entire album. Things do slow down a little…eventually. But not until the final couple of tracks, by which time you’re all ready to be wrapped up in that shiney silver blanket that gets thrown on people at the end of a big run.
Mid points of the album, ‘Nur’, complete with shouty (occasionally almost bordering on the screamy) vocals, and ‘Tigris’ are pretty unrelenting, coming at a stage where I wanted some light to go with the shade of the physical assault, and ‘Siqlum’ borders on metal, which depending on your mood at the time might be utterly glorious or just a step too far.
Thankfully, Amreeka arrives just in time to slow things down a little, complete with atmospheric vocals. Things get even better with Sha Mat, the 11 minute-plus ending to the album. This brings in brass and woodwind instruments providing a contrast with the all-out guitar/bass/drum battering of the rest of the album, and the slow burning, building approach of this song makes it an absolute highlight. Taking it’s time to get into it’s stride it eventually transforms into a combination of all the best bits of the album on one song before fading to a satisfying drone.
And just like that, it’s over. You can topple over the finish line. Then you can do it all over again – this is an album that rewards repeated listens, and fans of bands like And So I watch You From Afar and Russian Circles would do well to check it out.