Huddersfield three piece Stems came back onto the music scene with a bang earlier this year. After time away to progress and work on their sound, their latest album ‘Severance’ is a great next chapter for the band. I reviewed Stems ‘Polemics’ album a couple of years ago and was blown away by the beautiful soundscapes and how much of a stunning listen it was. There new album follows on in that vein with three cinematic mini symphonies rather than track in the usual sense.
The album itself was crowdfunded and managed to reach its target within four days! Recorded in three different cities in Holland, its another spell-binding album from the trio.
We open with ‘Constellations’, a 10 minute long epic that builds and builds with gentle layers of sounds fully encapsulating your ears. The chords become commanding and demanding of your attention as echoey nothingness swirls and swirls accompanied by strong, harsh guitar strums. It sounds like what you would imagine being lost in space to be like, lonely and desolate, scary but also wonderful that you are experiencing something so beautiful all on your own.
Next up is ‘Eclipse’ with its haunting, drawn out strings which reverberate around the piece wonderfully. Crashing cymbals and zig-zagging violin create a strong tempo to this one before falling away to quiet and serene beauty in minimal notes. The rise and fall throughout this one makes for some truly beautiful and atmospheric moments that really showcases the band’s skills with their instruments to really work together when they most need to, to create the best effect possible.
We close the album with ‘Kingdom’ which is defiant, regal and dramatic all at once from the very first notes to the very last. It is the longest piece on the album and could almost be described as an epic in the way it is delivered. Where we slow down and let violins create great calm reminds me of moments of peace in a King or Queen’s reign and the racing intensity of the drums and other instruments conjurs up thoughts of moments of battle, scandal or instability. It is, like all the rest, a piece of music that says so much through chords, tempo and atmosphere alone.
These three pieces of music really are cinematic soundscapes in the true sense of the word. They create emotion, feelings and project so many images in your mind without uttering an entire word to you throughout them. The music Stems create really is something quite special and wonderful.
The album is out now on vinyl, CD and digital album via their Bandcamp page.