STIGMATA - The Wounds That Never Heal

Stigmata - The Wounds That Never Heal

21 songs
76:27 minutes
***** *
I Scream


The band name is misleading. I expected a new project by NYHC legend Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front and Madball fame, but soon learned better. The Wounds That Never Heal is a re-release of the third and fourth album by New York hardcore band Stigmata that was active during the Nineties. This year they have been celebrating their twentieth anniversary, which was reason enough for I Scream Records to put those two records, both augmented by one live track each, on a single disc. Although I have never heard of them before, their members continued their careers in more widely known bands like Shadows Fall and Crisis.

The CD begins with the album Hymns Of An Unknown God from 1995. Stigmata were heavily into metallised hardcore, playing songs that switched between plodding mid-tempo and faster parts. The songs averaged nearly five minutes, so that the seven tracks still made it to thirty-three minutes. Unfortunately, the final result doesn’t sound really convincing. The hoarse vocals lack any depth, and the songwriting can’t help either to set any hard hitting accents. This might be seen in retrospect as proto metalcore, yet I doubt that this was even special back in the mid-Nineties. The second album featured is Do Unto Others from 2000, and sees a dramatically matured band. This time we get twelve songs that are on average three minutes long, thus nearly two minutes shorter than on the predecessor. This shows of course in the musical approach which is much more direct and fiercer than in the past. Even the vocals come with more variety. While Stigmata may still not be original, their muscular hardcore metal shows similarities to the Cro-Mags, and there are definitely worse legends to be compared to.

There is no denying that The Wounds That Never Heal offers value for money, but the question remains: are there enough fans left and people interested in a band whose members went on to play in bigger acts? The label should have reversed the order of the albums, because the first half is really lacking in interest, but once you know that things get better in the second one, the listener will feel conciliatory after all.

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