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Stimuli: They Are We

Delve into the world of Stimuli and you’ll be met with something deep, meaningful and insightful. The tone of this band undoubtedly lending their offerings an earnestness that’s dripping with 90s candour. In many ways, these are aspects you’ll also encounter in this Oakland outfit’s music, where you’ll also find the use of instruments such as sitar, Native American flute and ambient synthesizers. Setting Stimuli out as being a band who look to infuse their grinding bass heavy hard rock with elements not usually associated with this style.

The style in question being Alice In Chains like grunge and while there are a few math rock references and sludgy doominations that remind of Sabbath, if you came to this album cold, you’d presume that Stimuli emanated from the 90s Seattle scene. That in itself is no bad thing and with frontman Jimmy Tomahawk exploring the plight, history and current challenges faced by the Native American population, there’s undoubtedly something different going on here, even if proceedings do feel remarkably familiar. To Stimuli’s credit, these influences come across well on We Are They; the deep churn of “The New Dream” driven by unobtrusively tribal drums in places, while “Fire In Disguise” shimmers as though it was the heat haze from a blaze set to conjure hopes for the future.

Tomahawk also plays guitars and alongside bassist and theramin player Tai Hake and drummer Cole Andrew, the trio truly appreciate how to convey a deep anger without ever resorting to anguish or torment. “Ripple” relies on a twisting, turning groove to convey its message, while the stop start drumming of “Pill For The Pill” hits deep and without relent. Both are effective and insistent pieces of mid-paced persuasion and alongside the acoustic guitar based “Only Liars”, which has a touch of Workbook era Bob Mould about it, make a solid backbone for this album. However, as often happens in this musical setting, where things come a little undone is through the unwillingness of Stimuli to offer many chinks of light in their tone. A continual sense of doom, gloom and travesty being played out in such focused terms that put together these songs can at times become a little overwhelming. Obviously you wouldn’t expect some sort of party anthem in amongst the earnest offerings played out and yet something to lighten the mood and shift the focus as this journey is taken would have been most welcome. A sentiment I’m guessing “Prize Of Nothingness” was intended to evoke without really achieving its goal. Commendably combining a Native American flute meander to a drum solo certainly alters the album’s focus, but in reality it makes for a rather plodding inclusion once you’ve listened to it more than a couple of times.

They Are We is a solid, intriguing debut and one that does show a lot of promise. It’s possibly a little uneventful in places and plays things just a little too safe. However, keeping in mind that this is the first foray from this band, Stimuli certainly have a lot to like about them.

Track Listing
1. +x-
2. They Are We
3. The New Dream
4. Sandstorm
5. Fire In Disguise
6. Ripple
7. Pill For The Pill
8. Only Liars
9. Prize Of Nothingness
10. How On Earth
11. Pushing The Stone

Added: September 7th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Stimuli @ bandcamp
Hits: 799
Language: english

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