Stygma IV - Hell Within
Heavy (Progressive) Metal
13 songs (64'05)
Release year: 2004
Stygma IV
Reviewed by Marty
Austria's Stygma IV returns with a new album and for the first time in the band's career, they seem to have some stability as far as record labels and don't have to keep changing their name!! Originally called Stigmata, they were forced to change their name to Stigmata IV as the Stigmata moniker was already being used by another band. The Stigmata IV moniker lasted just a short while and they were again forced to change their name, settling on Stygma IV. Almost every release by this band has been on a different label except for the last couple of releases so let's hope they have finally found a new home with NTS Records and that they in turn appreciate what a great and very unique heavy metal band this is.

With heavy metal music, it's not very often that you come across a band that isn't a rip off of another band or riding a current wave much like the Edguy, Dragonforce style of speedy, happy power metal that has spawned way too many bands all playing the same sort of music. The same can be said of the current trends with many new bands to copy the Swedish melodic death metal sound. With a band like Stygma IV, my faith is restored that a band can take influences from other bands but still turn out something solid and unique and really has a character of its own; something very rarely seen nowadays in the metal scene. Using a mix of classic heavy metal, power metal and progressive metal all with a somewhat darker edge than most power metal these days, Stygma IV has produced an album that even after 4 or 5 listens, continues to grow on me. With this album, you'll hear some classic Megadeth, Annihilator style thrashy riffs but with the melodic sense that a band like Angel Dust introduced onto the metal scene. Ominous and atmospheric riffing all accented with keyboards adds great drama and atmosphere and is a standout of the first two tracks, Mental Power and Point Of No Return. The Last Stand uses a slower and pounding heavier Sabbath style repeating riff that has a great catchy chorus and vocalist Ritchie Krenmaier's vocal style and delivery really reminds me of Yes' Jon Anderson. Don't get me wrong here, he can sound raspy and sinister but when he sings in the higher registers, the resemblance is uncanny. He also sounds like Jon Oliva (Savatage) on a few tracks and his overall "shouting" vocal style is much like Bruce Dickinson's style of singing. With a voice that has lots of melody and strength but can also have a gritty edge as well, he allows this band to cover a lot of ground and not be confined with the types of metal music they play. Black Hole begins with a great fast riff and settles into a solid power metal groove. The keyboard effects used for many of the choruses to their songs really enhances the melodic sense of this band's music and is really evident with this track. The last track Music is a great mix of quieter, acoustic as well as heavier passages and I believe is a cover tune. The soaring melodies and great expressive leads by guitarist Gunter Maier on a song that is a bit out of character with the rest of the album shows the versatility that this band has and makes this song work very well as a great "wind down" to the album. The rest of the album's songs encompass many styles and tempos and is a mix of classic heavy metal with a somewhat darker mood.

They never really repeat themselves although they have very characteristic patterns with the melodic structure and arrangements, often a sign of a very good band. Other similarities in sound can be heard to Savatage and the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath (Eternal Idol, Tyr, Headless Cross etc.). I really like bands like this that can mix solid riff-heavy metal music with great melodies but not lose the hard edge to their sound. As mentioned earlier, Angel Dust introduced us to that sort of metal back in the mid 90's and more recently bands like Symphorce have continued in that vein with their Twice Second album. I like this album more and more each time I hear it and I have a feeling that it may make it onto my "best of the year" list. Originality in a genre of music that's getting so saturated with clone and copy bands is very hard to find these days and Stygma IV is one of the exceptions. Tired of way-too-happy power metal but still like melodic heavy metal with lots of twists and a harder edge? Look no further...........

Killing Songs :
Mental Power, Point of No Return, The Last Stand, Black Hole and Music
Marty quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Stygma IV that we have reviewed:
Stygma IV - The Human Twilight Zone reviewed by Danny and quoted 92 / 100
Stygma IV - Phobia reviewed by Danny and quoted 90 / 100
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