Stress Angel

Punished By Nemesis

United States Country of Origin: United States

1. Punished By Nemesis
2. Monsignor's Wish
3. Ritual Debt
4. Close To The Presence Of Suffering
5. Ancient Weakness
6. Jericho's Trumpet
7. Ridicules Of Death
8. Missionary Zeal
9. Ministerial Road

Review by Fernando on March 18, 2024.

The NY based label Stygian Black Hand has had some pretty good years and build a sturdy reputation as purveyors of quality underground metal. From Spite and Horns & Hooves to Crossspitter and from Antichrist Siege Machine to Pan-Amerikan Native Front and Left Cross, the label has an impressive roster of the best and most exciting examples of modern extreme metal. Today’s no different, as NY death-thrashers Stress Angel have finally unleashed their sophomore record Punished By Nemesis, released via Dying Victims Productions and in collaboration with Stygian Black Hand.

Stress Angel are one of those exceptional bands to come out of that brief but extremely prolific wave of old school death metal revivalists, however and unlike that trend, Stress Angel play death-thrash metal like it's 1989. In line with the back catalog of Stygian Black Hand releases, their style of death-thrash is vintage and old-school, but with a refreshingly modern twist and some first wave black metal seasoning here and there. On that note, this record could easily pass for an early black metal, back when there wasn’t a defined sound of what the sub genre would become. The vocals of Manny Sores, who is also the drummer and does an exceptionally good job, are as sinister and crude as it can be, and the added reverb makes those vocals sound more demonic which enhances the intensity further.

On a more technical level, the guitar work of Nicolai Orifice is the standout. His riffs and soloing are blasphemous and gritty, but they’re not overly primitive, nor are they needlessly complex, it’s the right balance between skill and dedication, and it works perfectly in tandem with Manny Sores’ drumming which, again, is excellent. The two members are perfectly in sync, both when they want to jump start a mosh pit, or if they want to indulge in more doomy atmospherics. And on that last part, the music takes some very cool and eerie atmospheres, where Nicolai Orifice also brings up his keyboards and synthesizers, again, adding that sinister vibe and feel that would be in line with first wave black metal. And to round up the instrumentation is session bassist Hank S. Blackyard, who, despite not being a full member is also essential to the band’s music, as his bass lines give the low end that makes the drums pop and guitars wail. Needless to say all the members give it their all.

To close off, I want to give additional props to Mike Moebius and Jamie Elton who handled recording and mixing, and mastering respectively, the record sounds pitch perfect, the performances have a natural clean recording and sound, and all the intensity is enhanced, they succeed at capturing that very specific sound extreme metal had in the 80’s but without it sounding dated, and it’s also clean without sounding sterile, all in all, a perfectly crafted record.

Discovering Stygian Black Hand and the various bands in their roster, current and former, has been one of the best discoveries I made in this decade, since bands like Stress Angel are by far the bands that metalheads should check if they want their fix of vintage extreme metal with more panache and substance than the revivalist trend of the day.

Rating: 9 out of 10