There’s a level of violence and devastation one normally expects from death metal, whether or not that’s fair. It’s not like there’s only one way to do things, and as long as it’s something that gets inside your guts and makes you feel the torture, the approach philosophically and lyrically can be any number of things. And it can be fun. That’s OK, even if it’s gross and blook soaked.
When it comes to one-man death bruiser Stormland, long helmed by Justin Pierrot, you’re going to get playing that squeezes your nerve endings, technical prowess that never forgets to add heart, and … tons of tales about the anime creation Mobile Suit Gundam meta-series. I’ll admit up front I know fuck all about this nor Gundam as a whole, but I walked away from “The Human Cost” thoroughly entertained and now somewhat informed about the basics, which I may examine further. Pierrot leapt into the Gundam world on the first Stormland full-length “Songs of Future Wars,” and before that the topic field ranged from politics to Stephen Colbert to fucking Bas Rutten. It’s been a rich collection of ideas that has always made Stormland a good time. But delving again into the Gundam universe makes for as record that’s still violent, plenty bloody, usually ominous, and packed with death metal glory on an eight-track, compact serving of an album that never forgets to entertain you. WITH DEATH!
“Marida” begins, a track based on the character Marida Cruz that bursts wide open and delivers a frantic pace that keeps up the entire track. “You watched your sisters get annihilated, somehow you survived unspeakable things, how could you forgive? Now let violence ring,” Pierrot howls, the leads glimmering, and a spacious jolt swallowing everything whole. “Esper” delivers drumming crashing and slashing death giving a disorienting beating. The guitar work takes on a burst of atmosphere, the low end crushes, and everything speeds up before chugging out. “Extreme Reaction” explodes with zany guitars and an explosive thrust into the stars, the howls rampaging along the way. “Adopting this identity, I am what has saved me, if I can ever be redeemed, I must transcend humanity,” Pierrot belts, the chorus spiraling, ending with the declaration, “I am become Gundam!” The playing continues to open and reverberate, hammering out the final declarations. “Test Subject” is harsh and sludgy as it starts, and there’s even a Korn/Sepultura filthiness that feels oddly satisfying. Pierrot is joined on vocals by Leda Paige (of SISSY XO and The Hallowed Catharsis among others), and her howls over the chorus carve into your mind and let you bleed out from psychosis.
“Lethal Ballet” starts with clean guitars haunting before the energy begins to jolt, and thrashy goodness blasts through, sending cinders flying. There’s a lot of color and variety in the playing, making an already interesting record a little more vibrant, and as Pierrot wails, “To survive another day, time expands as I dance between the beams, I shoot to kill,” the danger is amplified and blisters out. “Rebuilt for Your Whims” features Ross Sewage (Exhumed, Ghoul, Ludicra, etc.) and enters amid a humid atmosphere, the dueling vocals mixing toxicity nicely. The thrashing bruises ribs as the mud thickens, and the spiraling punishment bleeds away. “Beast of Possibility” brings sweltering leads that tease and threaten, and then things get sooty, burying your face into ashes. “What happens when the key opens so much more? When you’ve been given the Beast of Possibility?” Pierrot drives, barreling toward challenging terror and eventually a brief respite of calm. The soloing picks up speed, the viciousness drives the knife, and everything comes to an ultraviolent end. Closer “Beyond Gravity, Outside Time” is an imaginative, even breezy instrumental that takes on some jazzy dashes and swelling melodies, switching back to mauling waves that crash over and wash you away.
Stormland and Pierrot figure out a way to make death metal that’s still plenty violent and twisted, yet in the fantastical world of Gundam, so it’s best of both worlds. “The Human Cost” is a rather compact adventure that is content to blister you with energy and passion and never comes close to overstaying its welcome. This is a gut-wrenching and fun adventure into an anime classic series that doesn’t require your knowledge to enjoy this battering but likely makes it even richer if you’re tied into Gundam.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Stormland
To buy the album, go here: https://stormland.bandcamp.com/