July 31, 2008

STIGMATA (NY), "The Heart Grows Harder" (1994)

As per request, here's a classic record from Troy, NY's hardest, STIGMATA. Members have gone on to play in Murderer's Row, Dead Rabbits, Bulldog Courage, Burning Human and Shadows Fall.

The Heart Grows Harder

01. The Heart Grows Harder
02. Hard Ways To Worship
03. Once Was Warm
04. The Former
05. Falseness Prevails
06. Woundheal
07. I.N.R.I. (I'm Nailed Right In)
08. Inside As One

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  1. If I recall, their second album, "The Calling of the Just" has a very similar problem with unfortunate production values hindering otherwise killer songs. That's why I barely ever listen to it, ha. "Hymns for an Unknown God" is just fucking sick, so I always choose that over the rest. I'll have to revisit these older tracks tomorrow and remind myself...

  2. Anonymous11:17 PM

    A side note on this record is that i had a bootleg of that shit on cassette in high school. It came out in 94 but i think it was recorded in 91-92. Way ahead of there time! I thought they were going to take over the world.

  3. Welcome, Deebo. I know you've been a creep, lurking this shit for years... glad you could join us. Hahaha.

    Until the very last record, they were doing their brand of hardcore/metal that was unparalleled with anyone out there doing it at the time. I think that was due in part to Maney's, literally, incredible guitar playing. The dude can/could solo as good as Kirk Hammett. It really is a shame that such ingenious music went over so many people's heads.

  4. It pains me to read about these production "problems" with early Stigmata records. I feel like I have to share my opinions and experiences as someone who was essentially raised on "The Calling of the Just" and "The Heart Grows Harder."

    Let me take you back a few years to where this all started for me. Back in 1987, I was a 9 year old kid. I was lucky enough to have an older brother who was bringing home metal and punk rock records, and like any little brother, I wanted to get into anything my older bro was in to. One of the cassettes that made its way into our house was the Cranial Abuse demo. I listened to this thing every chance I could get. I knew every song backwards and forwards. It was the type of music where your brain was enjoying the parts before they were actually coming through the speakers. What made this so special was that the guys that made this music were friends of my brother and would find their way onto my street from time to time. At 9 years old, this is a pretty heavy thing to encounter. I knew I wanted to be a guitar player in a band, and this was like having your favorite band stopping by to hang out in front of your house.
    Cranial Abuse eventually changed their name to Stigmata in 1989 and things only got better. Fast-forward to 1990. I'm 12 years old, and slowly becoming a student of the Mike Maney style of guitar playing. He was the guitar player in my mind. The "Strength in Hate" 7" was the next release to blow my mind. The three songs on this were a complete shock to the system. The music was amazing, and it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. The guitar tone made every note sparkle through the mix. When "The Calling of the Just" came out, you could tell they were recorded during the same sessions. I remember sitting in my room trying to play along with these songs on the guitar. The only way I could come close to matching the sound was to take my wah pedal and leave it in the forward position, completely boosting the higher mid-range frequencies. While all the other metal bands were scooping mids, Stigmata were making them the focus of their sound. I didn't realize it at the time, but they were completely ahead of their time. (Years later I learned that the inspiration for the sound came from Tom Scholz of the band Boston and his EQ style for guitar).

    In 1992 I was 14, and when "The Heart Grows Harder" came out, my world had shifted yet again. How Stigmata were not the biggest band in the world was beyond me. The songwriting, the production, the precision, and the RIFFS! The riffs were undeniable. Mike Maney's mastery of the fretboard made me want to be a better musician. He set the benchmark for style and technical skill in a hardcore metal band.
    Maybe you had to be from the Capital District to really appreciate what this band has done. Maybe if I wasn't born and raised in Troy, NY I, too, would think those records sounded "weird." I owe A LOT to what I have been able to do in music to what those guys from Troy did before me. Nothing but respect then, nothing but respect now.

    -Michael R. Scoville

  5. I cant tell you how awesome it is to hear this again! My friend (and Michaels old friend) Jim Mulcahy had this in college and it was a shredder of a record. He got me into a few bands that I still like to this day, including Withstand, One King Down and of course Stigmata.

    Michael, if you read this and you still talk to Jim please contact me. I was his roomate for two years at St Mikes in VT. Thanks.


  6. Scoves — Spoken like a true Stigmata purist. I respect your point (pure and) immensely and you know I have nothing but love for The Stiggies, regardless of whatever tin cans the drums were tracked on. :)

    I guess it's comparable, for me, when the Earth Crisis demo came out with that wretched production too. It didn't matter how bad it sounded, it was just incredible music and emotion at the time and production aesthetics weren't even cared about. ExC was our band and it didn't matter if they farted for 25 minutes on the first release, we still would considered it golden and would have worn it on our sleeves no matter what.

    Maybe that's a problem that has stricken hardcore over the years, bands are trying to be too polished sounding thus taking away the rawness and realness of a hardcore recording. I blame it all on Normandy Sound (Tom Soares) producing just about every single amazing sounding NYHC record that came out of there at the time!!! Haha.

  7. Anonymous1:56 PM

    Thanks Brother, I requested this not expecting a response. Your right about Hymns being a masterpiece. Another good Troy band is Brick By Brick, the singer gave me a copy of Wings of an angel at the Superbowl but I lost it. If you have that I would appreciate it if you could post it. Keep up the good shit.

  8. I completely agree with the rawness of older hardcore. Production skills have their merit, but something is great about dirty recordings...


  9. Anonymous12:19 AM

    Hello all in anattitudeexhumed.blogspot.com !

    i try to search albums of Stigmata for so many years and finnaly i found your site, but the link for download, was deleted, can you re-upload this link again please ? . I hope you can, thanks.

  10. Anonymous12:00 AM


  11. For some dumb reason, I'm just getting into Stigmata now at the tender age of 38. Better late than never I suppose. Calling of the Just is my favorite so far, simply because I'm a thrasher at heart. I think the production fits the music perfectly. I'd love to see Stigmata with All Out War this weekend, but it my turn to watch our son so mommy can get out of the house and go to a gig for once. Does anyone know if the Cranial Abuse demo is floating around online anywhere?