Staytus - Disease of the Mind
This review was commissioned through Ko-fi. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
Staytus, a self-proclaimed industrial nu-goth, channels influence from the likes of NIN, Odonis Odonis, Black Dresses, Orgy, Static-X, and so many others. Reflecting upon her own life, like refracting light back onto itself, does she sing of PTSD, intrusive and ruminating thoughts, as well as self-harm. Though the album can lyrically go much, much deeper than that. From the young age of fifteen has Sam Grundemann been toying around with music and sound, which eventually evolved into her collecting degrees and certificates in audio production. Eventually, Staytus was born from this and in recent memory she has been releasing a steady string of singles leading up to her debut album “Disease of the Mind”. Unfortunately, those singles did not paint a pretty picture, and neither does her debut effort.
‘Absolute Terror’ is just that – an absolute terror. What sounds like an amateur strumming an acoustic forms the first few seconds of the song before running into a cacophony of drums, nasally vocals, and what generally sounds like a band’s first demo. The harder guitars in the background only serve to throw the song further off track, with none of the instruments necessarily coming into rhythm or beat. It’s a horrible start to the album and isn’t a good look for Staytus.
‘An Echo In Space’ doesn’t improve upon much either. What sounds like a lo-fi beginning featuring static, analog sounds actually forms the rest of the track. It sounds incomplete and unpolished, as if mixing and mastering was an afterthought rather than being at the forefront – if it was thought of at all. I will admit that Staytus does show a better knack for lyrical delivery this time, echoing some emotion rather than landing flat all the time. Nonetheless, her voice doesn’t match the beat, and vice versa. It’s a mess.
Without becoming redundant, much of “Disease of the Mind” falls under similar complaints to ‘Absolute Terror’ and ‘Arrhythmia’ – which is poor mixing and mastering, shoddy production, and terrible instrumentation. A lot of what I’m hearing sounds like bedroom production from a noise musician saying that their music is experimental and that it’s supposed to sound that way.
Finding the diamond in the rough, however, there are a couple of shining excerpts to be found on “Disease of the Mind”. This starts with the fourth song ‘Crawling’. While, again, the mixing and mastering isn’t the best, the slow pace of the drum work paired with some depth and bass give it heart. Much of the noise texture in the background is more bothersome than additive to the song, and could have been cut for cleaner sounds. Staytus also matches the energy of the song with gritty vocals, cracking and breaking as she reflects the mood of the song.
‘Nevermore’ is also oddly attractive. What I would consider to be trip-hop influences flow through the song. The underlying noise isn’t so bothersome this time but rather add to the general darkness of the track. Just like before, Staytus’ vocals, the attitude driven, almost spoken word style is delivered well. There’s a sense of fullness and polish on the song that is elsewhere lackluster on the album.
But, out of the thirteen tracks on “Disease of the Mind”, those are the two that I can recommend – and that still comes with some caveats considering they aren’t the greatest songs I’ve come across in quite a while. To me, these show that Staytus can make a decent song, a decent rhythm, and package it into a finished product without it sounding muddy. But for a large majority of “Disease of the Mind”, Staytus fails to introduce me to exciting elements, or a finished element. Repeating myself from earlier, “Disease of the Mind” sounds more like a demo than anything else, and it needs work. Four out of ten.Sep 25 2022
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I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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