“Ecstatic astonishment…” these words, found in the lyrics of the third track called “Splattering Purple”, perfectly describe my reaction to this album.
Flying Stag is some kind of a thrash metal rooted songwriter's album – stripped down to drums, guitars and voice. It’s loaded with catchy guitar riffs and odd meters, there’s even a decent touch of djent and industrial here and there, with some kind of punk attitude in the mix.
It doesn’t surprise, since Daniele Brusaschetto started off as a thrash and death metal musician in the 80ies. In the 90ies he took new creative paths and played in bands such as Whip (industrial), Mudcake (noise rock) and Down! (avant-garde/impro). With Flying Stag he goes back to his metal roots – with 90ies metal guitar sounds, versatile playing, catchy riffs and short solos. The drummer, Alberto “Mono” Marietta, is doing a truly impressive performance through the whole record - with an absolutely great drum sound! Almost modest in his playing (thereby giving a lot of space to the voice and the guitar) – always supportive, a very solid and straight forward drumming.
From the very first heavy riffs of the first song “Otherwhere” this album totally kicks ass! This track, 5 minutes long, takes interesting twists and turns in regards of structure. I would like to highlight here, that I absolutely loved the vocals on this track. It reminded me a bit of a Marilyn Manson kind of singing, paired with the the non-chalantly, charmingly snotty attitude of a rebellious, young Joe Strummer (The Clash), and yet, the singing is also soulful at the same time. This singing style took me by total surprise – in the best way possible – because it makes this record sound really personal - like a songwriter’s album - which gives a creative contrast to the heavy intensity performed on the guitars and drums.
This contrast gets even more emphasized on the second song “Stag Beetle”, especially in the mid-part of the song, when Daniele takes his voice to the higher register: it almost sounds like Peter Hammill singing metal. This is a wonderful momentum and I think, Daniele could do this more often!
The intro of “Splattering Purple” sounds like a metal tango dance between guitar and drums and then it totally leaps forward into the heaviness of oldschool metal as we heard it on the tracks before, but with different stylistics. This tracks also introduces Daniele’s growling skills.
“Splattering Purple” is followed by the very intense and creative “The Unreal Skyline”, which is my personal favourite track on this record. There are moments on this song which remind me a bit of the first record of Stone Sour. This track is really dark and rich in sound.
“Like When It’s Raining Outside” is the longest track on the record (7:36 minutes), a very interesting, colourful song – revealing the arranging skills of Daniele. Then comes the maybe heaviest and angriest song of them all, called “Fanculo Mondo”, featuring Daniele’s maybe thrashiest guitar playing and also a lot more of his growl skills. The last track “From a Tight Angle” summarizes the “peculiar metal nostalgia”, as I would describe this record, into one big final crescendo before “Flying Stags” leaves its listener in the aftershock of an “ecstatic astonishment”.
Flying Stag is a bold album, skilfully played, but never ostentatious. Total headbang-material, oldschool metal and punk spirit with unconventional songwriting – a combination which makes this record so astonishing and almost, as I mentioned it before, a bit peculiar. At the same time, Flying Stag is a very honest and personal album of a versatile musician, who already walked a long journey of many different stylistic paths in music, and who is courageous and mature enough - as a songwriter as well as a guitarist - to insert experience and skills without bragging – and yet, without understatement either. His own musical language is balanced, rich and always present through all seven tracks. The album is very saturated in sound and ideas, but it never sounds like “too much”. And best of it all: it absolutely NEVER gets boring! It’s an album I loved to listen from the beginning to the end, four times in a row. The only thing I missed sometimes was the depths in the sound spectrum, due to the absence of bass, I guess – but maybe it’s also just my listening habits and my personal love for low frequencies.
I am sure, the musicians had a lot of fun playing this music, this is obvious and a pleasure to hear. A big compliment from my side to the two musicians, Daniele Brusaschetto and Alberto “Mono” Marietta, who involve the listeners with their attention and curiosity from the beginning to the end. Absolutely recommended!