Album Review: Set to Stun and the Desperado Undead // Set to Stun

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Following tours with Motionless in White and Asking Alexandria, Set to Stun are redefining the face of metalcore. Their debut album, Set to Stun and the Desperado Undead, is a concept about about a character called Amadeus, who leads an army of the oppressed against the government. By doing this, he abandons his sense of priority for his family’s safety to ensure the well being of his fellow men because he believes it is for the best and will benefit everyone.

Musically, the album varies from hard-hitting riffs to something cinematic in a matter of seconds. It’s a mesmerizing blend of sounds that is remarkable for a three-piece and sets them apart in the scene. The opening track ‘Staria I: Amadeus Rise’ is spellbinding and brings this combination out perfectly. It contains nearly every element of modern metalcore condensed into an eight minute opus, however the changes in the track are phenomenal and work superbly. The listener does not know what is going to come next, from the pummelling hardcore influenced breakdown, to the guitar solo at the end.

‘Mirror Mirror’ is up next, the technical guitars blending nicely with the electronicore-influenced synthesizers. It then transitions into a refreshing guitar solo followed by an injection of swing into death metal blast beats. Lyrically the opening two tracks talk about the shooting and set the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Walk Tall’, incorporates some indie rock vibes along with a scream-rap from singer Damien Wong. Towards the end of the track, there are some anthemic “wooaahs” reminiscent of Panic! at the Disco, with some big production on the snare drum. This brings life into the track, keeping things fresh.

‘Blackest Night’ covers the period before the war; the emotional tone in Damien’s voice is shown as Amadeus is determined to bring the government down: “I can be that man! / I can lead this cross and I can lead these men / I can bang the drums of war and bring the temple crashing down upon their heads”. It’s motivational and makes you want to change the world.

‘Dreamcatchers // Bodysnatchers’ could represent the start of the war. The track itself is fast and heavy, the protagonist talking about his tortured thoughts over the course of his life and why he is determined to win this war. It is really well crafted and shows that the band has no limitations with genres. As the album goes on, we see Amadeus become captured by the government and his intention of “never giving up” (‘Doomsday’), and the determination to escape prison and go to war (‘The Necronomicon’). We also see the resigned acceptance that Amadeus may not live on but that death “has a beautiful side” backed by a chilling flamenco-influenced melody (‘Alyson Trips (Zzz…)’). As this track becomes heavier, there are elements of Bring Me the Horizon in the guitar work.

‘Dead Or Alive, You’re Coming With Me’ sees the leader of the government sentence Amadeus to his death, planning the execution; the crushing breakdown fitting perfectly with the chant “Bring me that Desperado!” The protagonist thinking his last thoughts, with the controlled musicianship and the background screams draw the listener into thinking the end is near. However once again he finds his motivation to emerge victorious: “And if God can’t stop me, well then no one will / Because it’s a dog-eat-dog world and I’ve got bigger teeth than you do”.

The relaxing acoustic vibes of ‘Brightest Day’ bring a sense of optimism to this long journey, some strong uplifting harmonies show there is still hope for Amadeus: “Look to the stars and look at all we’ve left behind.” This transitions perfectly into the final track, ‘Staria II: The Desperado Undead’. This completes the story with Amadeus planning another battle, over a combination of chugging thrash metal riffs and theatrical instrumentation.

The band are with him as they all deliver an emotional battle cry: “As we stand together on the brink of an abyss / Staring straight into the depths of Hell / I’ll ask you old friends, stand with me one last time / Raise up the colours high, we’re going to war.” This brings the album to a close, and suggests that the battle isn’t quite finished yet.

Set to Stun have demonstrated a refreshing approach to metalcore with this genre-bending album. It is an album bursting with creativity, with something for everyone, which could increase their fanbase in the future.

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

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