Stormlight’s Natoma packs a richly immersive, swirling hurricane of screamo music that features both startling instrumental prowess and a subtly approaching emotional knock-out.
Natoma is the first full-length album from Stormlight, a project that features Sean from Loma Prieta, Elle, and other projects on guitar, bass, and vocals alongside Erik of Lord Snow and Lautrec on drums, and the duo’s experience shines brightly on their newly available album. It’s an understatement to say there’s never a dull moment — emotionally wavering, dynamic lurches on the guitar lay atop dizzyingly intricate drum patterns, and the musicians behind Stormlight feel like they’ve united their sprawling, discordant elements into a grippingly cohesive experience.
There are a lot of memorably poignant moments on the album. The crescendos marking the closing segments of album opener “Farsick,” for example, start funneling a whole lot of emotional energy at the listener right from the get-go as the waves of intricately intense drums and powerful guitars ring out. “Acute-Care” features some softer moments that lead into shining streaks of guitar melody that fill the latter parts of the track and feel like they pack the dramatic intensity of something like shooting stars streaking across a dark sky.
Throughout Natoma, comparatively softer moments provide an accent to the more directly chaotically heavy blasts, which feel cathartically invigorating. The interplay feels well-captured on the song “Nighttime Absorption,” which features forays into softer performance right before the song’s particularly pummeling closer, which approaches super heavy hardcore territory.
Stormlight seem to set their particular brand of heavy chaos apart through the emotional power inherent in the melodies and their performances. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the musicians behind Natoma sound like they’re pouring out their absolute all, and this passion that’s readily apparent in the music’s presentation pours over into the music itself. This particular element seems to shine particularly brightly on “System’s Fate,” which features a consistently passionate guitar melody that leaps and lurches with emotionally dramatic, immersive intensity. “Sleep Debt” also features this emotional richness via the surprise foray into contemplative math rock textures in the opening segments of the song. By the end, the raw passion amplifies.
The music ultimately feels very emotionally accessible, while never sacrificing its sometimes quite fierce intensity. It’s an enthralling, fresh-feeling ride through classically “screamo”-style emotional mayhem.