Stolas - Living Creatures Record Label: Blue Swan Records
Release Date: March 14, 2013
Stolas is a progressive rock band from Las Vegas. They recently signed to the newly formed record label Blue Swan Records, owned and formed by Will Swan (Dance Gavin Dance). Living Creatures was released as the debut album for Stolas as well as the debut release for Swan’s label. Prior to the release, they gave the public a preview to the album by releasing a single titled “Medusa” which features Kurt Travis (A Lot Like Birds) as a vocalist. The single created buzz on social media sites and gave listeners high hopes for the full length release. “Medusa” features crazy guitar riffs, pretty melodies and of course the swooning voice of Kurt Travis. Along with Travis, the album has a handful of other guest vocalists, including: Tilian Pearson (DGD), Jonny Craig, Cory Lockwood (ALLB) and Donovan Melero (Hail the Sun).
Being the first band on Swan’s label, it’s apparent that both Swan and Stolas wanted public awareness for the upcoming release and with the parade of guest vocalists, they certainly did a good job on getting the word out. The guests don’t over stay their welcome, however. They occupy single sections in their respected songs without taking the spotlight completely off of Stolas.
“Year of the Light” was released soon after “Medusa”. The song reveals a different side to Stolas, which is less aggressive compared to “Medusa”. The song also features Tilian Pearson. High hopes remained with listeners and more people started to pay attention to the band. Fans were anything but disappointed upon release. The album was recorded and mixed by Josh Benton and mastered by Kris Crummet. The overall recording is crisp and clear and demonstrates high quality studio performance. The record shows the “heavy and aggressive/guitar-shredding” side of Stolas in tracks like “Medusa” and the “smooth and soft/melodic” side in tracks like “Circuit Theory”. The vocals are performed very well and the screams are very unique and compare to nothing I’ve heard recently. The clean vocals are very soothing and catchy and sound similar to Hail the Sun. The vocal styles are scattered throughout the record and are orchestrated properly with the instruments.
The guitar work on this record is very creative and complex and a loose comparison can be made to Will Swan. The drums and bass go hand in hand with the guitars and collectively create energetic/aggressive jams with a tendency to turn down the speed mid-way through without ever getting boring. There is never a dull moment on the album. The lyrics on the album also showcase the band’s creativity and honesty. In the song “Captured Light”, the lines: “When you find yourself alone/You’re a fool to hold the rope” create both a feeling of relief as well as a feeling of sorrow.
The album also features narrations on some of the tracks which add to the overall feeling of the record. The shortest song on the album is “The Greatest Illusion”. It is very slow and serves to have the effect of an interlude. It continues the narrative theme with the narrator being the sole vocal on the track. The last song on the album, “Captured Light”, features yet another narration that ends with the narrator yelling “We are living breathing creatures” which creates a sense of closure.
The future is bright for Stolas and Swan has had a good start to being a label owner.