Urbana, IL based post-rock/post-metal band STAGHORN were already featured on IDIOTEQ in 2018 with their interesting musical, but also political and sociologically conscious project, and today, we’re thrilled to introduce their new undertaking, entitled Corvus IV, slated for a release on March 20th. This 4 song, 26 minute album that continues the story line from their previous releases, and also features guest vocals by Drew Speziale of Circle Takes The Square! The band plans to put out a version with the spoken word narrative and vocals as well as an instrumental version. Today, we’re thrilled to give you its first listen and additional commentary from the band below!
Rising from the sludgy depths of the shadowy album-opener “Torch,” Corvus IV establishes a foreboding tone as it sets up the initially pensive but increasingly formidable “Lux,” which moves through the dark dreaminess of its early moments into a sequence of increasingly explosive outpourings which showcase their ability to embrace aggressive means while the passions at their core remain unbowed. It is this duality that is key to their success: acknowledging the darkness in their pursuit of the light, they are capable of being overwhelming without being oppressive, of vigorously shaking the listener at the same time as they are guiding them toward a resolution. There are echoes of black metal methods as “Lux” charges through its second half, but without the nihilism that often colors that style; it isn’t an easy road that Staghorn travel, but the journey’s end is characterized by a spirit that proves re-energizing.
Continuing their tireless search for the crossroads of art and ethics, Staghorn return with the fourth chapter in their sweeping tale of ecological crisis, dire consequence and faintly but persistently glimmering hope. In largely moving away from the tropes of modern post-rock, Staghorn in many ways grow more akin to the original, more nebulous definitions of the form. Operating within a genre often driven by twinkling, reverb-drenched guitars and extended build-and-release formula, Corvus IV is as sonically subversive as it is ideologically direct, delivering an experience that has a clear and powerful destination bolstered by a compellingly dynamic and often surprising pathway for arriving there.
Noticeably darker and heavier than previous efforts, Corvus IV finds itself more often entering into metal territories than it does post-rock. Building forth from a canvas streaked with elements of doom, black metal and screamo, Staghorn have composed 26 minutes of music that seamlessly weaves their many influences into an immersive experience that uniquely represents their full artistic aesthetic. With their use of albums-spanning narrative and front-and-center ethical concerns, Staghorn wield a power that is rarely found in modern music – utter singularity.
“Rahula” brings the listener back to more solemn territory, with vocals by Drew Speziale (Circle Takes the Square) that greatly enhance the sense of urgency and import that drive this penultimate track with a desperation that proves essential leading into Corvus IV’s finale, the slow-burning and contemplative “Samsara.” Accounting for half of the album’s running time, the closing track patiently moves through carefully unwinding passageways, never relinquishing the sense of being a dramatic final approach, skillfully balancing a sense of unease with ever-building anticipation. Corvus IV sees Staghorn building upon the successes of their previous works while bringing exciting new elements into the fold, a bold and fresh statement in a saga that continues to provide one of the most consistently compelling and unique experiences in modern post-rock music.
Asked about the nature and motifs behind the band, STAGHORN’s Jared Barona (guitars, programming) offered the following:
When Two people get together, sometimes there is music. For better or for worse. They fumble around with ear plugs in with speakers blasting, strings buzzing, until the right notes and rhythm stirs their bones and soul. Everything is political, so naturally, music is no exception. We sing protest songs. We live in protest to the status quo and the oppressive governments. We dance to these funny songs to feel a little better about our brief time in this hallucination. All the while, we are getting more organized. The music is a distraction. One day, the bigger picture will come in to focus.
There is light in the world, and there is darkness. We all know these tired tropes. What would our story be without the dead horse all us creatives keep kicking. These days, the light rarely peaks through the chaos of information our eyes take in on our screens. Every once in a while, that light drags it’s tired bones into a room and we sing and dance for a moment. Joyous racket. Without the suffering we all know and endure, that joy would just be life… but that’s a fucking fantasy. We close our eyes, avert our attention, and argue on Facebook to try and pretend that the sickness in our world can be solved by voting and believing that we can change the system. That worked our well in the past, right? All the while proclaiming our great advances! Oh the shiny new objects of desire we all MUST have in order to live our best human life. It’s a beautiful story but it is just so god damn hard to chew on. We spit that factory farmed engineered bullshit out a long time ago and we are clawing at the hole in our walls to let that light back in. Otherwise, we’ll dance in the dark.
STAGHORN will be doing some European shows in May and October this year, with some festival appearances, to be announced soon. Asked about their local scene of Chicago, Jared continued:
Chicago is a monolith. Packed solid with the spectrum of humanity and of course there are some excellent bands from there, perhaps one of the earliest sites modern post rock emerged from with bands like shellac, tortoise, Russian circles, and so on and so on. Post rock, everything else, is about as accessible today as anything else a smart phone can reach. There is a niche for everything in Chicago and we frequent the city throughout the the year. We won’t pretend we LOVE Chicago… all it’s corruption and polluted skies and waters. We do love the friends we have made, the bands we have shared nights and days with. That makes the journey into the beast worth every ounce of gas.
American post-rock has never been so present. Maybe that’s a point of view which is skewed by our presence within. America has a festival dedicated to the genre now (Post. fest, Indianapolis, IN), and a vast network of Facebook pages and google documents of all the bands out there. All is well.
When it comes to other artists worth a check, here are some bands in heavy rotation for Jared right now:
“Post-rock will always be the thing that is just too good for me. That’s not a bad thing, I love it and I think it’s all beautiful, but I’m always jealous that other people have the capability to make me cry with this goddamn music. So I was thrilled when I was listening to Illinois based band Staghorn‘s new moonlight-filled track “Movements II and III”. It really is gorgeous.” -Gear Gods
“Wormwood III feels more like the soundtrack to a stirring drama than it does a rock record, and I love that. If you’re a Slint fan, you should definitely pay attention.” -NoEcho
“…alternately hypnotic and captivating, sleepy and epically explosive…” -Idioteq
“Strong headed, goal driven and entombed within the spirit of the underground music scene is the Do It Yourself mentality… St. Louis’ Staghorn is very much the prime example of individuals that continuously give to the music scene.” -New Noise Magazine
“…ultra-powerful, gorgeous-by-way-of-harrowing…’” -Decibel Magazine