When Midnight Strikes!

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Here's a twist: Italian deathcore with gothic lyrics. Stigma may be coming to the metallic deathcore hate-in somewhat late by releasing their debut album, When Midnight Strikes!, in March 2008 (though to be fair, they've been haunting the chapel since 2000). But at least they're leaving those tiresome emo-tinted lyrics to rot, thanks to undead frontman Stefano "Vlad" Ghersi's and his entertaining vampire stories. Sonically, Stigma's attack resembles the hyper-aggressive, melody-averse, and blastbeat-happy style of Himsa and the Black Dahlia Murder, among others, so however well it happens to be executed (very well, indeed), the music won't likely claim your eternal soul for the dark forces of the night, all on its lonesome. No, for that you'll have to delve into the blood-spattered lyrics (conceptually linked, naturally) contained in compellingly named songs like "I Am Dracula," "Blood, Your Precious Blood," "Sons of Midnight," and album standout "To Be Really Dead...That Must Be Glorious," featuring a memorable synth and guitar solo coda. So go grab your cape, garlic and reading glasses, and get ready to mosh them to a smelly, jagged pulp -- especially on exceptionally frantic offerings like "Silver Bullets and Burning Crosses" and "A Call for Vengeance." Stigma may not be reinventing the deathcore wheel here, but they sure as hell rock like bats in your belfry.

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