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Independent Artist Plug: Stillicide

Author: Johnson
Posted: 28 Sep 2004

OK, I'm getting some gasoline or nailpolish remover fumes up here in the office. Heavily, actually. I haven't been able to pinpoint the source, but I have the skylight open and a fan, on high, blowing air out. Hopefully it won't affect the following review too much.

That said, though, what better state of mind in which to review a band like Stillicide?

I won't lie, I go way back with WAxl (forum member), one half of the aforementioned outfit. And when I say "way back," I mean about twenty years (note that we're both twenty-seven) and, last I checked, a band and a half. It's a long story, Laughingstock and methodmaniaKal, but if you don't already know it you probably wouldn't care. I go back with the other guy a year or two, off and on, punctuated mostly by fierce Unreal Tournament battles. With that kind of sordid history presented to you, the reader, I give you Stillicide. dipshit once said that a good speech starts with a dictionary definition. I don't know why, but assholes keep doing it. It struck me, though, Googling tonight, that I'd assumed that Stillicide was a home-crafted black metal-sounding term, but I found that Stillicide actually means A continual falling or succession of drops; rain water falling from the eaves.

I suppose that's fitting. Sort of.

First off: Stillicide, as a band, lacks any clear definition. Were a gun to my head, I'd say that it's a digitally-enhanced amalgamation of analog and digital instruments. They're prone to fits of both synthesizer euphoria, muddy distorted-guitar precision, and, occasionally, layered vocal tracks. They've got a mix of original and cover tracks available in mp3 on their site that would be confusing if you weren't readily familiar with the artists. A drifting, ambient track like Preterconscious? A 15-minute epic cover of Guns n' Roses late epic Coma? What's this looping, dissonant song I Just Can't See? And why don't we throw in a grinding metal cover of The Mountain Goats' Grendel's Mother? May as well. Nothing fits, yet everything fits.

I don't know that I can review individual songs, persay, but I'd like to highlight the ones that stick out in my mind.

Love as Cancer is an interesting one. It's one of the older ones. The verses and bridges are rather catchy, from an almost EBM-like stance. The choruses, though, tend to devolve into amateurly-recorded distorted guitar mud over the electronics and vocals. I can see what they're going for, but I'd much rather hear it recorded more professionally (that is, if what I'm hearing is what's intended or, better yet, what was achieved given the resources). As I said, though, the verses are entwining and mesmerizing. Definitely worth a listen.

At this point, I'm going to move more into the realm of the tracks I prefer. That said, fire up Preterconscious. It begins with a bizarre stretched-out whine of a sample, resulting in a spat of dialogue barely recognizable but in a voice familiar from our Laughingstock days. What follows is a fantastic slow groove of deep bass, snapping percussion, and rapidly whispered lyrics you might hear in a schitzophrenic's mind. I listened to this quite a bit while playing various dystopian first-person shooters, and it fits well. The whispering keeps you constantly looking over your avatar's shoulder while the rhythm keeps you running, hiding, running, hiding, and running again. My favorite moment comes at 3:50 -- the verse ends at some of the only intelligible lyrics in the track, "it's make cages..." followed by the same sampled voice from the beginning going on about "...euphoria...and reality." I may be wrong, but there's an almost imperceptable arc to the melody pulling upwards. It just works.

And now, readers, we arrive at what I like to think of as Stillicide's as-yet opus, Atomic Shit. Yes, the name is silly and harks to Escape From LA/NY movies, but just let it cruise. And that's precisely what it does. It's arguably the most accessible track thus far. Go ahead and burn me for calling it my favorite. It centers around a one-TWO hi-hat/snare/kick rhythm combined with oscilloscope synth lines and filter-sweep bass lines. The beginning and end feature an unknown sample of what I can assume is a former NYC resident citing "I left New York for that same reason. Hell, I loved that city. That's before it got all crazy, that is. Before all that atomic shit started falling out of the skies." Do note that that track has a blank thirty seconds at the end. I don't know why and neither do Stillicide.

At this point, though, I'll bring this edition of IAP to a close. I don't know what else to say about Stillicide that would or would not prevent you from checking them out. On a whole, though, I'd say at least try Atomic Shit or Preterconscious, those being my two most-preferred tracks. It may not be for you, but if you don't give it a shot, you've lost.

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