Album: Massive Disturbed Meta Art
Label: Klonosphere Records
Genre: Progressive Instrumental Metal
Release Date: March 17th, 2023
For Fans Of: Meshuggah, Tool, If These Trees Could Talk
Ok, here we go. Stömb are a French progressive instrumental metal band that recently released their third full-length album, Massive Disturbed Meta Art. The band features Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone, who has made some excellent music with Shining and Jaga Jazzist over the years. On Massive Disturbed Meta Art, this band explores “the use of psychotropic substances to reach through a trance-like state a higher level of altered consciousness and thereby the transcendence of the human condition.” With cover art that looks like a cross between a Grateful Dead poster and a biblically-accurate angel who took too many mushrooms, you know what you’re getting into before the band has even played a note.
Musically, Stömb take a kitchen-sink approach to instrumental prog metal. As mentioned above saxophone slithers throughout Massive Disturbed Meta Art. Other musical seasonings include electronic influences, hip hop beats, and a rhythmic approach that sounds like something Meshuggah could make if they ever chilled out for a moment. The core of the record is this rhythm-based approach to riffage.
I’m going to start digging into Massive Disturbed Meta Art in the middle. Specifically, the fourth track, “The Extantrasy.” This song starts with hushed noises, then spends a minute building up to a dubstep-style beat drop where a voice tells the listener to “play this record as frequently as possible,” after which the song crashes down into a mid-tempo electronic groove. My only question regarding this opening is…why? Why does this happen? What did anyone gain from this? Maybe I’m not familiar enough with electronic music and this is actually a very clever reference to something beyond the general existence of dubstep. That doesn’t make it sound good.
The opening to “The Extantrasy” doesn’t work for me because Stömb don’t do anything interesting with their extensive musical tools. Inserting a beat drop like this into the middle of a metal album could have been interesting if they had meaningfully built up to it or gone somewhere with it. While they do slowly shift from this beat drop to the electronic groove to a more blended electronic metal style, I’m just left confused at the band’s choices. The final shape of Massive Disturbed Meta Art is formed through competent clay and technique, I just can’t figure out what the band is attempting to make.
I used this beat drop as the most obvious example, but similar problems plague the entire album. “Kaleidoscope” has a hip-hop/trap style beat to open the song. Again, it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose or go anywhere interesting. Munkeby’s saxophone sounds nice, but the record wouldn’t feel very different without it and it starts to sound same-y after too few listens. Massive Disturbed Meta Art seems less to be less a cohesive record with emotional and technical high points and more a collection of ideas that actively hurt each other.
These issues would be bad on any album, but they are so much worse here because Massive Disturbed Meta Art is seventy minutes long. On several listens I found myself internally begging for the album to end when it had ten or more minutes left. The gigantic size of this record ends up amplifying all of its weaknesses and ultimately dooming the release.
I’m extremely late in posting this review, partially because musicians deserve to have thought and respect put into their art and I don’t want to blindly trash an album without giving the people behind it their due. I picked up Massive Disturbed Meta Art because I heard an intriguing blend of sounds played by some talented people. And there is no denying the ability of these musicians. The record sounds good in pieces. However, every single creative decision they made bounced off of me as completely as possible. This record is so severely not for me that I have a difficult time recommending it to anyone, but I guess give it a go if you are into experimenting with electronic music. Best case scenario, the entire record just went over my head.
- The Realm of Delirium
- Sidereal Lucid dreamer
- The extantrasy
- Meta Art
- In The Eye of Aghemahra
- An Absence of Sun
- Of Absolute White
- The Altered
Total Playing Time: 01:10:09