SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 10 August 2003  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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Government - Gazette

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Budusarana On-line Edition

 Brace yourself for Hollow dreams - unleashed 

The album is launched on the 23rd August at My Kind of Place Taj Samudra, Kandy's Grunge powerhouse foursome 'Paranoid Earthling' will be opening the show, where afterwards the Metal maestros themselves would unleash the theatrics in the album - live on stage. The tickets for the launch would be Rs. 350/.- with every entrant being entitled to a free CD. (Why the benevolence? I do not know. But make the most of it) I guarantee that hard times are ahead for the weak-hearted as this record is as subtle as a nail in the eye. With even the most worshipped metal deities succumbing to pressure of the nu, (St. Anger, anyone?) this is true deliverance for us mortals in this part of the world. Welcome to the rapture!

As a hard music fan from the old days of Led Zepplin Rush and Pink Floyd, to Tool, Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails of today, I have gradually developed respect of the highest order for Stigmata. Emerging out of nowhere into a non-existent industry - and with absolutely nothing to benchmark upon the lads have crossed a long hard path in coming to where they are now.

There has been absolutely no holding back of these five amazing young musicians - banshee extra or dinaire Suresh de Silva, the guitar greats Andrew Obeysekera and Tenny Napoleon, with Nisho Fernando and Shehan Grey who are responsible for the heavy drum and bass streams. Having established possibly the biggest following in the western music industry as one of the most creative, talented and imaginative bands in this part of the globe. Stigmata has chosen the perfect moment to launch their debut offering.

'Hollow Dreams' is a scourging delivery of a collection of twisted forecasts very neatly penned with passion to connect into one concept. With much painstaking attention being devoted to every minuscule detail of the musical arrangement, the album makes way for an amazing listen. The concept is broken down into 3 parts painting a detailed, layered soundscape, from a wide tonal palette. Expands song structures, odd time signatures, shifting arrangements filled with novel sounds, the whole album bears a very progressive feel despite their classic metal influences. This lyrical masterpiece is meant for the independent, thinking mind.

Sigmata : Tenny, Andrew, Suresh, Shehan and Nisho
The launch concert is sponsored by ETV, Carlsberg, Bitter Lemon and The Sunday Observer

'Hollow Dreams' tells the story of a man who desperately needs to wake up from a nightmare being unable to draw a line between the dream and the contemptuous immorality which he eventually wakes up to. The album's fierce opener Thicker than blood, (which the fans heard through their EP, and also in the soundtrack of the drama titled same) quickly grabs the listener with its brutal guitars and deep lyrical content. The heavy bass line in the song inspired is haunting and the song is addictive. The fusion driven instrumental 'Andura' goes deeper into the dream, and shows the bands firmly planted roots in Sri Lankan music. One of the highlights of the album is the song 'Stigmatized'.

The expanded structure of the song, slowly driven to a climax of doom makes the listener covet further. It's long, enigmatic and stunning composition sends a fist in the jaw to all the three minute Link in Parks that seemingly occupy mass media these days.

The title track of the album 'Hollow Dreams' with pounding Kandyan drum backbeat is another standout track all the way through. Its really fascinating to find long, lightning speed, yet melodic guitar solos still in existence throughout the record in this anti solo 'nu' metal era. 'Voices' one of the earliest crowd favourites of the band is given a whole new lease of life. The very autobiographical 'Falling away' is simply a beautiful song that haunts with taut acoustic guitar fills and a display of vocal ear candy.

My favourite song in the album has to be the phenomenal 'Denzra'. I've been fascinated with the song from the time I heard it first about two years back and it is still one of my all time favourite songs. With the vocalist's trademark high pitched screams, lightning speed arpeggio guitar work and the violent beat change Dezra shows the metal kingdom what Stigmata is all about. In the phenomenal closing tune 'Extinction' Stigmata lets all hell break loose. With very Malmstien influenced guitar fills played possibly at an even faster pace (may be not that is humanly impossible) and killer vocals, this is a lesson in brutality. A fitting end to a true masterpiece.

When a band had been unleashing one incredible slab of metal after another at their colossally energetic gigs, as Stigmata has been doing, the pressure to maintain the heaviness on tape is immense. Shobi at Sonexco studios has lent his wizardry to make that pressure very constructive. Going well in line with the predecessors in their genre, in the likes of Led Zepplin, Iron Maiden and Nevermore, they have smashed many a boundary in the musical conventions that they were born into. It would be amusing to watch the music experts trying to label Stigmata's genre.

The whole album carries progressive metal elements with Suresh's penchant for black metal written all over the vocals. Dark wave and power metal elements are very prominent right throughout this highly melodic opus. Despite all this the band remains very Sri Lankan, and has even encrypted Baila. I've never heard anything like this. Even the more perceptive metalheads might have trouble figuring this one!

Call all Sri Lanka

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