Thus far, we've had the opportunity to review many great bands from the beautiful European locale of Germany here on Metal Trenches. Some have been either talented or musically masterful, while others are truly odd, eccentric or somewhat innovative in more ways than one...and, for the purposes of this review, we will be focusing more on the latter. That being said, Stillbirth stands tall as one of those Hagen-based "party" acts that prefer not to take themselves too seriously. Despite their over-the-top lyricism and presence, the band has released five albums since their late 1990s formation, seemingly making a name for themselves on the scene. And, rest assured, they are at it once again.
Stillbirth's newest and fifth full-length album to date, more seriously titled Annihilation of Mankind, was made available on this very day over at Unique Leader Records. This 44 minute release is packed with a dozen tracks that mix elements of brutal death and some grind along with those textbook traits and appearances of the quirky German metalheads that it was made by. Much of the recording was also conducted by the band itself.
Getting right into it, Annihilation of Mankind still exhibits several characteristics of previous albums, though it goes for a more fast-paced brutal tech death sound like its predecessor, Global Error. I'm glad that the band kept its signature back-and-forth vocals between the frontman and bassist, since that's always been my fave part about them. The slammy, lightning fast riffs come back, but I'd like to note that the bass lines on this one are much better than in the previous albums. Overall, these sections are more audible and noticeable throughout, especially in the first half of Annihilation of Mankind. Also, you've still got some audio samples here and there, but they're used a bit more sparingly.
'FirstStrike' is a song I really took a liking to for its main slamming riff and the way in which the double bass drumming coincides with the rest of the madness. The outro to the following track, 'Highest of Malice', is yet another high point in this release for me because of its raw energy and brutal death riffing. However, 'Plague of Warfare' would have to win it for me in terms of the guitar and general instrumental variety. The song mixes slams, tremolos, and the band's interchanging vocals all too well, making it an interestingly written and engaging composition with a ton to mosh to. The presence of pig squeals is also something to mention here. Vocally, though, 'Nuclear Stench' is at the top.
While still keeping its own identity and being as brutal as can possibly be, there are still a couple of things I personally wish were done a bit differently on this album. For instance, the presence of those "gang vocals" like on Global Error is non-existent here from what I recall...which is a bit of a shame. Also, while this album is vocally superior to its predecessor, I'm not sure if I'd say the same for the instrumentals. I'd probably say they're on around the same level; however, I will say that the production quality and tone here is better, in addition to the overall mix and song structures being more competent.
All in all, Annihilation of Mankind by Stillbirth is a fun and fast-paced brutal death album that surely has its own quirks and identity. Sure, it may not end up being as over-the-top as much of their other stuff (opting for a more straight brutal/tech death style), but it still comes out as a satisfyingly brutal and energetically fun release that is easily worth your time. It's got enough lightning fast riffs, blast beats, disgustingly offensive vocals, and slamming variety to entertain most fans of the more brutal, quirky side of the genre.
The Pros: Improved song structure, engaging vocals, decent slams from start to finish
The Cons: A little bit cliche in terms of the themes, riffs feel recycled sometimes
Fave Tracks: 'FirstStrike', 'Nuclear Stench'
For Fans Of: Cephalic Carnage, Party Cannon, Waking The Cadaver
**This release is available now here!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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