Here’s a recipe for you: take a heavy dose of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, mix it with the vocals of Chuck Billy during 'Practice What You Preach', inject it with a heavy 90s atmosphere, throw in a bit of thrash, and shove some classic solos up its ass. And what you get is Stinger’s debut masterpiece, 'Manic Depressor'.
The album starts off promising, to say the least, with the opening track, “Time to Die,” an amalgamation of thundering riffs, driving force, and sonic melodies. The music in this song, particularly the vocal melodies, have a vibe similar to 90s grunge music a-la Alice in Chains, especially in the chorus. This is a theme that continues throughout the album’s duration.
The first thing to grab my attention with this release, other than initial awesomeness of the song itself, was the influence. While most metal bands that play throwback styles reach to the 80s for their sound, Stinger is preoccupied catering their sound more to 90s metal, an interesting find, considering they aren’t a Pantera rip-off. 90s thrash metal is a strong factor in this album. This is found most notably in the sound of the vocals (again, 90s Chuck Billy is the best reference point here). The riffs are also tinged with a heavy, melodic 90s thrash sound ('Souls of Black', anyone?), but also, quite interestingly and masterfully combined with 80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal melodies and driving riff force.
This attribute in particular is best shown on the title track, which kicks off immediately with some brilliant, blazing melodic riffs straight from the NWOBHM playbook, but with a hard 90s edge, complete with excellent bass and brilliant, creative drumming, all coming from an album released in 2011. This is my favorite track on the album, and it’s so good in fact, that if this was the only good track on this release, it’d be worth buying, just for this one brilliant song. But of course, this is not the only amazing song on the album, so let’s explore this masterwork a little more.
This album has so much going for it, including the many musical styles and influences, such as the previously stated NWOBHM and 90s thrash sounds, and the subtle, yet prolific 90s grunge metal influence, which is heard most prominently on the track, “Outlive the Outlaw,” which blends groove Metal, grunge, and even, dare I say, southern rock. Not a combination I would normally be thrilled about, but Stinger pulls it off with a masterful ease, which really shows what I think to be this band’s greatest strength of all: their strength as songwriters.
Whether it be straight-forward headbangers like “Hellbent,” more complex, lengthy tracks like “12 Years,” or the slower, more emotional songs, like “Dream Revolver,” the riffs and melodies are stunning and with no filler, the solos are incredible and memorable, the vocals are delivered flawlessly, with tremendous power and emotion. So much feeling is put into the music they make, which makes the experience for the listener that much more amazing.
I really can’t say enough good things about this album. Literally every single track is a magnificent example of excellent songwriting, tight musicianship, and fantastic awesomeness. I highly suggest you all go to Stinger’s MySpace page and support this unknown band by buying this incredible masterpiece. If you’re a fan of good music, I promise you won’t regret it. [9.5]