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Good to know that STINKING LIZAVETA is still around. Unfortunately I sort of lost touch a bit and the last album I know well is 'Slaughterhouse' (review here), because Joe Lally of Tolotta Records had sent me a copy in 2000. That was a long time ago, but I have never lost interest in this unconventional, instrumental trio. Based on that, I was very happy to receive a promo copy of their new album, '7th Direction', as I was sure that STINKING LIZAVETA will pull out a few good surprises. One thing is clear: the surprise succeeded. '7th Direction' finds itself sitting on the fence among different music styles ranging from progressive and post rock to jazz and metal. This hard to describe melange results in 13 complex songs which do not care about current trends.

Again, STINKING LIZAVETA do their own thing and during this process it was not always easy for me to follow all the hustle and bustle that is going on here. But true to the motto: good things need time I took a lot of extra time to listen to '7th Direction'. But it was worth it, because I was rewarded with an album that is gripping, suspenseful throughout, and challenging. Guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos allows himself not much pause while eliciting an astonishingly diverse and continuously surprising spectrum of sounds from his instrument. With the help of this sounds, he fills the songs with life, as for example in 'The Space Between Us' which is one of the most touching songs here. In 'Z', Yanni Papadopoulos oscillates between space rock and heavy metal and shows - in passing - that he is a master of both. But also the tight-knit rhythm section, consisting of his brother Alexi Papadopoulos and drummer Cheshire Agusta, really does play an important part to make sure that this album never loses energy and variety.

It would be hard detective work to find out each individual musical influence here and even my vague description above is inadequate. You will also find splinters of blues and early 1960's surf music, which doesn't mean however that '7th Direction' is incoherent and inconsistent. Indeed, the opposite is the case: over the last 17 years STINKING LIZAVETA have created their own characteristic style, as attested by the meanwhile seventh studio album. The spare, bone-dry production of Sanford Parker is a perfect fit for the band, because it emphasizes the natural quality of the music and the joy of playing that STINKING LIZAVETA show here. I definitely think that '7th Direction' is a small masterpiece which needs time and attention in order to develop its full beauty. In addition, it's great to see that STINKING LIZAVETA have joined the Exile On Mainstream Records roster, because they go together just fine.