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Stangala : Klañv

Back with as eclectic and radical a Psych/Stoner/Doom mix as usual: Stangala's latest comes highly recommended.

Stangala are ostensibly a Stoner/Doom band from Britanny, France, who deal with themes based on the folklore of their region, and in fact only sing in the Breton language. I say ostensibly as there is quite a large variance from the standard tropes of the genre... more on which later. Before I was aware of the Breton language connection, I was looking at the song titles for quite some time trying to work out where the hell this band was from! They have a few demos, a debut album and a split under their belt already, but I'm not familiar with any of it, so without further ado I'll dive straight in.

For roughly the first 10 seconds of the record, I wondered if this was going to be fairly standard Stoner stuff, as a vaguely bluesy riff played in a fuzz tone rang out. This was alleviated almost immediately when the first tones of a saxophone rang out. To my recollection this is only the second Stoner/Doom band with sax in it – and the first that isn't my band. Well, to those who bemoaned the lack of sax on our latest effort – check this out, you are gonna love it!

Within 2 minutes we are presented with a building freak-out in a weird time sig that has heavy overtones of King Crimson, before getting back into a funkier section that brings to mind Gong's groovier moments, before slowing down and getting all epic, before ending on a Black Metal blast. Quite a lot to take in within an opener totalling less than 8 minutes. If you didn't already work it out, Stangala are a band that genre-hop with impunity. Every time I thought I could predict where they were going next, they went somewhere different. Third track 'Lutuned An Noz' carries on with the Black Metal sounding riffs – in fact the opening riff is almost 'Under a Funeral Moon', whilst the title track begins with a more meditative, trancelike BM sound.

Sonically, they have the Stoner/Doom all-muffs-blazing fuzz sound down pat, with guitars and bass sounding full, thick and warm. Unlike a lot of efforts in the genre though, everything remains clear throughout, remembering that clarity is as important as brutality. I enjoyed the various different vocal styles on offer, from cleaner chants to full shrieks, all are fitting to the particular mood of the section of the record they accompany. Everything is performed to a high standard too – although I am not sure if the reed instruments are actually live performances or sequenced as the band seems to be currently a Guitar/Vocal and Drum two-piece, and sometimes they seem to be playing in a higher register than I would expect to be possible, but this is just guesswork on my part and my cloth ears have been evident several times in the past!

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the more generic groovy Stoner riffs that crop up now and again throughout the record, but they are usually a backdrop to something altogether more interesting, and are never far away from something totally out there anyway. I'd also go the polar opposite of most mainstream reviewers and say I would like to see some lengthier compositions (average length here is about 5 minutes) with longer forays into the truly experimental side, as seen on the last couple of tracks, but to be honest the snappier song format works very well here, and the variety between the slightly longer songs and the more single-worthy ones probably makes for a stronger album overall.

I don't think this record is going to appeal to everybody though, and may certainly alienate the 'I ONLY LIKE LISTENING TO THE SAME FOUR RIFFS' contingent within the Stoner/Doom community, but anybody who likes their riffs with a side of jazz/acid/space freak-out's (and indeed the occasional Black Metal riff) will be big into this. And whilst I'm trying to keep this review as spam-free as possible, I have to say any fans of Camel of Doom are going to go crazy for this. It's not exactly what we do, but almost as if we went down a different juncture a few years back and focused on the groovier side of things rather than the all out Death/Doom approach. It certainly has WAY more reed madness than we ever did even at our saxy peak.

P.S. If the underwater Grim Reaper, complete with Jack Skellington smile, on the cover art is part of Breton Folklore I may have to read into it in more detail!

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Bigoudened an Diaoul
2. Hent Loar
3. Lutuned An Noz
4. Klañv
5. N'eus Ket Dremmwel Hiviz
6. Jan
7. Marv Int Ar Martoloded
8. An Ankou Hag Ar Vor

Duration : Approx. 47 minutes

Visit the Stangala bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-04-10 by Kris Clayton
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