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Who?: Joe Cafarella, vocals and guitar; Alex Scouten, guitar and vocals; and Dan Nelligan, drums.

What?: Western New York-born metal/hard-core outfit entering its second decade as one of the most exciting bands in the idiom.

Why?: With the release of "Crossroads" on Catch 22 records this week, Stemm reminds us of its ability to blend some serious Pantera-style audio-carnage with strong melodies and well-developed musical motifs. Cafarella is now fully inhabiting his "new role" as frontman -- a founding member of the band, Cafarella was originally guitarist and backing vocalist -- and a self-assuredness and clarity of vision pervades throughout "Crossroads." The heaviness certainly remains, but there is an undeniable maturity at work here, one that has broadened the scope of Stemm's attack.

What's next?: CD release party is at 7 tonight in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). His Name Was Yesterday, It's A Dinosaur! and Downslave open. Tickets are $10 (

Check out: A brain-bursting take on Black Sabbath's deathless "Supernaut" alone makes "Crossroads" a must-have for metal heads. Learn more through

-- Jeff Miers

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