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Friday, 17 July 2009

Sound of progress

A mention from a friend, a Tweet on a social networking site - a couple of ways in which I'd heard about UK progressive metallers Stone Circle. As you may already know, I have a raging boner for unsigned UK metal bands so have given these guys a good listen.

The first song, "Eastern Skies" leads you to make the embarrassingly obvious Opeth comparison but cards on the ol' table, it pretty much sounds exactly like Opeth. In every way. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I'm not really a prog fan.

Did I not mention that? Oh dear.

This being said, "Crystal Burial" is a solid outing, despite opening as a virtual carbon copy of Coheed and Cambria's "Welcome Home". The introductory guitar harmony runs for the first minute or so but rather than Claudio Sanchez's slightly whingey babblings we're greeted with Joe Ashwin's "two pints of Coke in quick succession burp"-sounding growl. Mikael Akerfeldt would be proud. The Spanish guitar style break is impressive and as the song kicks in you can feel a crescendo building but for me, maybe a little bit of synth to add another level here. No? Fuck you then. I think Ashwin does a good job throughout "Crystal Burial" of keeping the listener engaged, and wade through the first few minutes of this song to find a frankly staggering moment of calm which is unexpected, and I fucking loved it.

"Plague" kicks off bizarrely sounding a bit like Alter Bridge's "White Knuckle" but with vocals you'd only get out of Myles Kennedy if you poured molten iron into his throat and threw him in a cement mixer. The blastbeats are a bit, um, well, unconvincing. Drummer Sam Hill clearly ain't Derek Roddy but to give him his dues, this ain't really death metal.

Then something irregular happens. "Parchment" shows an awesome synergy between Joe Ashwin and Tom Skelton but to be brutal, I don't get this song at all. It's a great indie singalong but I didn't come hear to wear thick glasses, put on a cardigan, go to Camden and generally be a cunt; I came here to rock and this song doesn't. It fits in like a 12" strap at playgroup. It's like ordering a pint of Guinness and getting an egg sandwich. It's just not right.

"Nosferatu" is safer ground for Stone Circle. The rhythm section get more of an outing here, with bass man James Pearce accompanied by a bit more enthusiasm on the kick drum during the slower sections. It smells a bit like Ashwin's throat's giving up though; the belly-deep anger of the first couple of tunes seem a tad tinny but as I always say with MySpace reviews, a lot of that shit's down to the fact this ain't done in Abbey Road.

"Purgatory" for me has the most solid opening of all the songs. Everyone meaty here; guitars are low, vocals are lower, bass is throbbing. But again, it just, well, goes on. There are so many layers it's difficult to really get in to the groove of the tune.

Maybe it's just me though? Maybe I don't get prog and am subsequently a bellend? I can cope with prog if it's a hot day, I've a beer in my hand, I'm sitting on the ground with Hot Chick, smoking a fag, chilling in general, and there's other shit going on. It's awesome music to have on in the background but it's not my scene in terms of standing in a room, eyes front, know what I mean?

I don't want this to come across negative as it really isn't. Stone Circle are fucking good at what they do. If you're a fan of the Opeth's and Dream Theatre's of this world you would be absolutely fucking retarded not to like this band. Click on the MySpace page; listen for yourself.

But with all prog I always feel a bit empty. Damn that fucking egg sandwich.

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