Label: Moonjune Records
Review: Jason Spencer
Thoughts: Some albums give me plenty to consider, and some even cause me to struggle to accept them. The debut album from Sh.tg.n is definitely one of these. This band's eclectic vision borders on noise rock at times and sublime post-metal in others. It's a tough nut to crack, I'll tell you.
Sh.tg.n hails from Belgium. Their style is mostly instrumental, and they officially label themselves “psychotic pompous contemporary heavy metal”. Yes, that's about right. Their music is certainly psychotic, being unpredictable and a little scary. I would also say it's pompous, or maybe just ballsy and confident. Whatever the case, they definitely don't care what you or I think. As for contemporary and heavy, I'm not so sure. It's new and fresh, so I'll give them that. Yet, the music just isn't that heavy. It's way proggier than heavy, that's for sure. Their music showcases plenty of guitar work, but it's more along the lines of hard rock than metal. The drummer is definitely a psycho with his speedy pace, as is the bassist. However, the keys on this album are surprisingly beauteous and elegant, if purposely off-key a bit. The album is certainly eclectic, too, with the pleasant vibraphone and variety of styles.
The album has a weird way of pulling you in kicking and screaming against your will. Honestly, I really like the first five tracks. All five of them are inventive and strangely beautiful, though I'm at a loss to explain why. They are harsh, but there is always this piercing beauty that shines through the mess. I especially like the vibraphone on 'Camera Obsura' and the keys on 'Dead Baby'. However, the second half of the album is less to my liking. The novelty of the originality wears off, and many of the songs devolve into crazy messes that have no redeeming value. Screaming vocals take the place of the interesting atmospheres, and vulgar lyrics take center stage. Look, I have no problem with an f-bomb or two in an album, but do you really need to drop it like like rabbit turds? That's exactly what lyrics become when they are this meaningless.
Lyrics aside, the music on Sh.tg.n's debut is worth a listen. I can see this band getting a nice little following off of this record, as it is truly new, in your face, and no holds barred. It sounds like nothing else. However, I think that originality went to their heads, and they took things so far that their listeners probably won't bother keeping up with them. The album lacks maturity; however, I can see this band producing something truly wonderful down the road.